Monday, 5 September 2016

Spain: 18th July - 4th August : Hesperids

Pyrgus alveus
Under this species a complex of closely related taxa is parked and some authors even give species rank to some of the described taxa, f.e. ssp. accretus or ssp. trebevicensis. For Spain ssp. centralhispaniae is described. Pictures are from Sierra de la Sagra, both pictures show the same individual.

Muschampia proto
This species can be found in the whole Mediterranean area. In southern areas of Spain it is common whenever the larval foodplant Phlomis species is present. Pictures are from Sierra Tejeda.

Carcharodus baeticus
A species with a western Mediterranean distribution, to be found near its larval foodplant Marrubium species. Pictures come from the east of the Sierra Nevada and show a territorial mail on a dry foodplant.

Gegenes nostrodamus
Unlike what some field guides suggest, determination of this species from the related Gegenes pumilio is not straightforward and in many cases is impossible in the field. Research of collected specimens have shown that the latter species however is most probably absent from the Iberian peninsula unlike what some distribution maps in several field guides suggest.

A territorial male from the Alpujarras

A female in the agricultural landscape NW of Tarifa

Borbo borbonica
Since long it was known that this species, with mainly an African distribution, was present in the very south of the Iberian peninsula. It is however only since recent that more is known about the distribution and phenology of the species in Spain, mainly through the work of Sariot:
Midsummer is not the best moment to search for the species, better is to look at the end of summer when the third generation flies. We decided to give it a try anyhow and found a few individuals. The reason why this species could keep itself out of sight of entomologists is probably because the habitat is only rarely visited by entomologists. It is most easily found in agricultural landscape, along artificial water flows where Ecballium species is numerous, this plant is a favorite nectar plant of the local populations of Borbo borbonica. The few individuals we saw where very active and difficult to approach.

Just flying up and in this way showing a glimpse of the large white spot on the upperside of the frontwing.

Nectar feeding on an Ecballium species

Spialia rosae
Recent genetic research suggested two genetic lineages in the Iberian populations of Spialia sertorius. Further research showed that the unknown lineage in fact had a different biology. They are found at higher elevations than the classic Spialia sertorius, they use a different foodplant (Sanguisorbum species in Spialia sertorius, Rosa species in the unknown lineage) and they had a different prevalence of Wolbachia infection (Wolbachia is a maternal inherited endosymbiotic bacteria that can have an influence on the mithochondrial variation of their host; in Spialia sertorius no Wolbachia infection is found while in the unknown lineage a 100% prevalence of Wolbachia infection seems to be the case). This lead the researchers to describe this lineage as a new species; Spialia rosae. Their findings have recently been published (9th july 2016 online): 

In the eastern part of the Sierra Nevada, in a small humid valley on 2150m, we saw several Spialia sertorius s.l. on a location with a lot of small Rosa plants. While following an abraded female it immediately was apparent that this female had a particular interest in the small Rosa plants and I could see the female ovipositing on the young leaves of this Rosa plants. I have never seen a species so soon after the species description!

Spialia rosae, territorial male

Freshly laid egg of Spialia rosae on Rosa species

Freshly laid egg (left under), freshly emerged larva (center up, starting to spin its larval nest) and empty egg scale (right middle, at the pinkish base of the branch) of Spialia rosae on Rosa species.

Detail of the egg of Spialia rosae on Rosa species.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Spain: 18th July - 4th August : Nymphalids (Incl. Satyrids)

Argynnis adippe chlorodippe
The Iberian subspecies of Argynnis adippe is with its greenish wash on the underside very different of the nominate subspecies that is present in a large part of Europe. Here in Sierra de la Sagra but can be found in large parts of Iberia.

Brenthis hecate
We didn't expect to see this local species this late, early august in Sierra de Albarracin.

Euphydryas desfontainii/aurinia beckeri
In Serrania de Cuenca we found a nest of young caterpillars of an Euphydryas species. Help in determination is welcome. Larval foodplant is most probably Cephalaria leucantha (but I am no botanist).

Danaus plexippus
This species is mainly known from its nearctic distribution and its migratory behavior but since some time it has some sedentary populations in the southern coastal areas of the Iberian peninsula.

Pyronia cecilia
Relatively common in the southwest of Europe

Arethusana arethusa
We only saw the nominate in central Spain, need to go back to Andalucia late summer once to see the subspecies boabdil, sometimes considered a species on its own.

Erebia hispania
An endemic of the high slopes of the Sierra Nevada, common at the right height and location. The hard wind made the right front wing of this one being out of place, giving us a glimpse on its upperside. Pictures are from the western part of the Sierra Nevada at 2500m+.

Erebia zapateri
Endemic of the eastern part of Spain's central mountain system. Named after the Spanish late 19th century entomologist Bernardo Zapater. Fligth period is late in the season, mainly in august. In Sierra de Albarracin fairly common in open grassy areas in the pinewoods between 1450-1700m.

Coenonympha dorus
Not uncommon in mountainous areas throughout Spain. First picture from Sierra Tejeda, second picture from Serrania de Cuenca.

Coenonympha glycerion iphioides
Iberian form of Coenonympha glycerion, sometimes considered as a species on its own. Picture is from Sierra de Albarracin.

Coenonympha pamphilus lyllus
In most field guides lyllus is described as the southern summer form of Coenympha pamphilus, some literature however considers this as a species on its own. I am still interested if someone would have a digital copy of following article:
BOILLAT, H., 2003. Coenonympha lyllus Esper, 1805, spec. rev. une nouvelle approche taxinomique du complexe pamphilus. - Alexanor 22:243-309
The picture shows a female from Serrania de Cuenca.

Hipparchia statilinus
In the Mediterranean area this is a common species, in northern Europe however this species is threatened. Picture from the Sierra Tejeda.

Hipparchia fidia
An endemic of the western Mediterranean. Picture from the Sierra Tejeda.

Hipparchia hermione
In previous posts I was able to show pictures of close relevants of this taxon Hipparchia (hermione) genava and Hipparchia fagi. In the Iberian peninsula Hipparchia fagi is limited to the Pyrenees. In the rest of the area the only species present is Hipparchia hermione. Picture is from Sierra de Albarracin.

Melanargia russiae
A species with a sporadic distribution over southern Europe.

Pseudochazara (hippolyte) williamsi
The nominate is a species from central Asia distributed from the south of the Ural to Mongolia. The taxon williamsi is restricted to some mountain regions in Andalucia. It is sometimes considered as a species on its own. Pictures are from the east of the Sierra Nevada between 2200-2400m

In next post some Hesperids from Spain.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Spain: 18th July - 4th August : Lycaenids

The Iberian peninsula is a Lycaenid paradise

Satyrium esculi
A SW European endemic that can be found from S France all over the Iberian peninsula

Tarucus theophrastus
In some southern coastal and desert like regions of Andalucia, like Cabo de Gata, this North-African species has some colonies. Butterflies are most easily found in the immediate vicinity of the larval foodplant Zizphus lotus.

Second picture shows the treacherous spines on the larval foodplant

Zizeeria knysna
A species with mainly an African distribution reaching Europe in the lower coastal zones of the Iberian peninsula. A species that can easily be found in S Spain in the vicinity of human settlements in grass lawns that are kept humid throughout summer. A very active and very small species so I was still happy to be able to make the picture here under.

Aricia (artaxerxes) montensis
This taxon was long time considered as a subspecies of Aricia artaxerxes, with some uncertainties on the exact distribution, some authors even placing populations of Greece under this taxon. Out of genetic research however it seems that the populations of the Iberian peninsula and N-Africa form a different genetic clade and the name montensis should belong to this clade. More information can be found in this article of Claudia P. Sañudo-Restrepo et al. Following map comes out of that article
(c) Claudia P. Sañudo-Restrepo et al.

The taxon is found in lots of mountainous areas in Spain, here in the Sierra Tejeda

Aricia morronensis ramburi
This is a local mountain species restricted to the Iberian peninsula, several subspecies have been described and precise relations between these subspecies is not yet fully understood. In the Sierra Nevada the subspecies ramburi can be found on barren, rocky screes where the larval foodplant of the genus Erodium is found in high numbers.

freshly emerging foodplants, probably Erodium cheilantifolium, can be seen on the left of the picture

Plebejus zullichi
This species is an endemic of the high zones of the Sierra Nevada. We searched for it on one of the smallest populations on the Veleta and could find one female in difficult circumstances with lots of wind. Unfortunately just when I wanted to start taking pictures the female flew off and got lost out of sight in the wind... So I can not present you any pics, I will certainly be back one day to search for it on the bigger populations of f.e the San Juan or the Mulhacen.

Polyommatus (Polyommatus) escheri
A widely spread species in mountainous areas of Spain. Larval foodplants are Astragalus species. There is some confusion to the subgeneric status of this taxon. Some authors put it in Agrodiaetus or Neolysandra, the most safe option however will probably be to put it in Polyommatus s.s.

First two pictures show a male and female from the Sierra de la Sagra, last pictures shows a male from the Sierra de Albarracin. I had some difficulties with the determination of the female as it has a very Aricia-like pattern on the underside. With the help of the opinions of some other people I found however some pictures of females with similar, albeit not this extreme, pattern on underside hindwing. Apart from the Aricia-like pattern near the upper edge of the hindwing the rest of the pattern looks typical for P. escheri female. 

Polyommatus (Plebicula) golgus
Two subspecies are known of this local species. The nominate out of the Sierra Nevada and the subspecies sagratrox out of the Sierra de la Sagra. We saw both subspecies:

Male (upper) and female (lower) of the nominate subspecies, easily found on the Veleta, above 2500m in the Sierra Nevada

Two males of the brighter colored subspecies sagratrox, clearly already abraded half of july, above 2000m in the Sierra de la Sagra

Polyommatus (Plebicula) nivescens
And yet another Iberian endemic, to be found in mountain ranges all over the country from the southern slopes of the Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada, local and never really common. Picture below shows an individual of Sierra de Albarracin.

Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) fabressei
The subgenus Agrodiaetus consist of a series of very similar species, the most representatives of this subgenus can be found in W and C Asia, several species however can be found in the western mediterranean as well.  Several of the species show some phenotypical regional variability. Out of recent genetic studies it seems that some taxa described in the past should be synonimized and geographic distribution of some species is different than previously thought. An article on this matter by Vila et al. can be found by clicking here. Out of this research it seems that Agrodiaetus fabressei is limited to central Spain. The species is not uncommon at higher levels in Sierra de Albarracin.

Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) violetae
This species was initially considered monotypic being endemic to the Sierra de Almijara and Sierra Tejeda. The taxon subbaeticus from the sierras in the  NE of Andalucia, that was initially described as a subspecies of previous species, is nowadays however placed under this species (see article in previous species account).

Nominate in the Sierra Tejeda at 1500m

subspecies subbaeticus, all pics from Sierra de la Sagra. First picture shows why these blues are called 'furry blues', the males having a broad hairy scent mark on the front wing. Both pictures of the underside show the variation in the presence of a white stripe on the underside hindwing. We have seen this species in the Sierra de Cazorla at 670m and Sierra de la Sagra between 1300 to 2000m.

Polyommatus (Lysandra) albicans
The Lysandra subgenus is one of the several difficult to determine groups within the Lycaenids, especially in parts of the Iberian peninsula where the distribution of several species comes together. This seems to be a group of species that only relatively recently evolved and due to this and regular hybridization between the taxa it seems very difficult to find genetic lineages as well in this group. Luckily in the very south of Spain only one of the paler species is present. This is the palest and biggest of 3 pale Lysandra species, in flight at first sight it even remembers sometimes of a Pierid. The other pale Lysandra species being Polyommatus coridon with a wide distribution over a large part of Europe and the bivoltine Polyommatus hispanus that is present from NE quarter of Spain along the French Mediterranean area just into Italy. 

Male Polyommatus albicans in the Sierra de la Sagra

Polyommatus (Lysandra) (coridon) caelestissima
The taxonomic status of this taxon is still unclear. It is sometimes considered as a species on its own, but even so considered as a subspecies of Polyommatus coridon. The upperside is a clearer blue than that of P. coridon. It is restrictedto the eastern part of the central Iberian mountain system. In Sierra de Albarracin it is common between 1400-1700m.
This picture shows at least two other species, Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) damon (forth from the left) and Polyommatus (Polyommatus) icarus s.l. (in the center under the flying individual).

More on nymphalids in the next episode...