Thursday, 1 September 2016

Spain: 18th July - 4th August : Introduction + Papilionids & Pierids


From about 18th of july until 4th of august I spent time in Spain with my partner and a befriended couple, mainly in Andalucia but on the way home also 2 days in central Spain. On this trip attention was mainly paid to butterflies but also dragonflies, birds and even cetaceans got our attention.
Roughly we visited following locations, in chronological order. The letters between brackets show the main interest of the visit; butterflies (B), dragonflies (D), birds (V) or cetaceans (C):

1- Sierra de Cazorla (D)
2- Sierra de la Sagra (B)
3- Sierra Nevada (western and eastern side) (B)
4- Cabo de Gata (B, D, V)
5- Motril surroundings (D, B, V)
6- Las Alpujarras (B)
7- Sierra Tejeda (B)
8- Jimena de la Frontera surroundings (D)
9- Tarifa surroundings (B, V, D, C)
10- Cordoba (D)
11- Serrania de Cuenca (B)
12- Sierra de Albarracin (B)

In the next few days a few blogposts will follow giving a quick overview of the butterfly species seen on this trip. Hope you all enjoy.


Parnassius apollo
A widespread species in Europe but in a lot of regions the species is local and declining. More than 100 subspecies have been described. Lots of these subspecies have only low taxonomic value and one can even suspect that description of some of them was made out of commercial than out of scientific interest as the species is popular with commercial collectors. There are some populations in the south of Spain, f.e. this one from the Sierra Nevada where the species is common. At this location the subspecies nevadensis was described. The reddish spots are more orange than in most other European populations


Pieris mannii (?)
These maps were published in a German monograph on the species by Heiner Ziegler and Ulf Eitschberger (1999; click here for the monograph):

(c) Ziegler & Eitschberger

The subspecies reskovitsi (border Hungary/Slovakia) and the subspecies haroldi are considered extinct, the same was long thought for the subspecies andegava. Recently however unknown populations were discovered in France and Luxemburg. The subspecies alpigena has recently made a major increase and now can be found in large parts of S Germany. In Spain populations have recently been found in the NW as well but in large parts the subspecies roberti is local and sightings are few.

(c) Ziegler & Eitschberger

This picture I made in Torcal de Antequera, NW of Malaga. Although the discal spot seems rather small (unlike the description of the subspecies), the large amount of dusting on the underside hindwing made it really stand out and should be enough to exclude Pieris rapae, a species commonly present on this location. Any comments on the determination are welcome.
EDIT: Apparently the individual pictured below should best be considered to be a Pieris rapae. I still find the underside hindwing dusting very aberrant for the Pieris rapae but Pieris mannii should indeed have a much bigger discal spot.

Colotis evagore
This is a species with mainly an African distribution. It is since long present in S Spain and has been expanding northwards and can nowadays been found into Catalunya. It has a phenology typical for some species with several generations at the northern edge of their distribution. Numbers collapse during and after winter and build up during the several generations with biggest numbers in later generations, for this species in autumn until early winter. In Spain the species is typical for dry agricultural areas in hilly landscape where the larval foodplant Capparis spinosa is common, from sea level until 1000m. In the eastern part of Las Alpujarras we found already nice numbers end of july.

There is some variation in the amount of black on the upperside, mostly there is more black in later generations. The second picture shows the typical flowers and spined branches of the larval foodplant. The edible flower buds are the well known capers. Third picture shows an egg, just left of the center on the underside of the new branch.

More on Spanish Lycaenids in a next post...

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