Yellow-banded Ringlet

Erebia flavofasciata


Refresh page if pictures don't load fully: 

In its habitat, August 2013, with a dusky grizzled skipper

Detail from the same picture

Switzerland, August 2013

Switzerland, August 2013

Switzerland, July 2010. The red blobs are parastic acarians (mites), which do the butterfly no real harm.

Switzerland, July 2010

Switzerland, July 2010

Erebia flavofasciata distribution


This very special butterfly flies in the high Alps of Switzerland and Italy. There are two subspecies, one in Ticino and over the border into Italy, and one further east in the Grisons (Kudrna also shows a single point in Austria). All the pictures above were taken in Ticino, where the butterfly flies very locally, on high, rough slopes with tufted grasses of medium length. Where the habitat is not just right, even in the immediate vicinity of a colony, the species appears to be absent.

Unlike many Erebiaspecies this one is instantly identifiable, with a bright, yellowish band on the underside hindwing that is visible even in flight from close range. The upperside resembles that of small mountain ringlet, and from a photo of this alone it would be difficult to tell them apart - especially given the extreme variability of small mountain ringlet. For this reason, you should always pay attention to small mountain ringlets in Ticino and the Grisons!

I saw my first in July 2010, on a trip specially to see the butterfly. It was rather grim weather but I was able to find perhaps 3 or 4 willing to take to the air in sheltered grassy hollows. In 2013 I returned and found many more at the beginning of August (2013 was a very late year and there was snow at the site until mid-July - so the butterfly should be considered more of a July species in a normal year). The foodplant is sheep's fescue and the caterpillars hibernate twice, as is common with high mountain Erebia species, so the full life-cycle occupies two seasons.