Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan about 35–44 mm; the fringes conspicuously light-and-dark banded. Slender-bodied to medium built; very short-bodied. The eyes hairy, or glabrous (?). Antennae reaching about halfway to the wingtips to reaching noticeably over halfway to the wingtip. The antennal clubs abrupt. Labial palps ascending. Having only 4 fully developed legs (forelegs with two tarsal joints and brushlike in males, those of females having 4 tarsal joints with short setae). Fore-legs without a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred.

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt. The outer margins angulated; scalloped. Forewings with the outer margin both angulated and markedly scalloped. Uppersides of the forewings light brown to orange-brown (first brood), or black to fuscous (second brood); contrastingly dark-veined to not conspicuously dark-veined; without a discal mark; in the first brood, tawny and tortoise-shell or fritillary-like, with dark basal discal and subterminal splashes and spots, alternate dark and pale marks from the costa, and a white spot towards the apex. In the summer brood they are quite different, being dark with contrasting white spots and broad transverse bands (cf. the White Admiral), and a narrow tawny mark near the tornus.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded, or broadly angular; slightly tailed; with the outer margins scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings light brown to orange-brown (first brood), or blackish to fuscous (second brood); conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; conspicuously patterned. Uppersides of the hindwings not eye-spotted. Uppersides of the hindwings without a discal mark; patterned as a continuation of and more or less like the forewings.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings complexly colour-patterned like the uppersides, but less brightly; conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined.

Undersides of the hindwings complexly colour-patterned like the uppersides, but less brightly; conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; without a discal mark.

Wing venation. Forewings without basally dilated veins. Vein 1b simple.

Hindwings 9 veined; with a praecostal spur; with 2 anal veins; exhibiting vein 1a; the anal veins comprising 1a and 1b. 7 veins arising from the hindwing cell.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. The larvae with rows of bristly spines. On nettles.

Pupae ridged and angular; conspicuously patterned; exposed, with no coccoon; suspended from the tail (cremaster), with no median silk girdle.

British representation. 1 species. Araschnia levana (Map Butterfly). The adults abroad May to August (in two broods).

Status in Britain. Rare ocurrence representing occasional, genuine immigrants (perhaps), or adventive. Populations of the Mainland-European A. levana apparently have the capacity to survive indefinitely in Britain. The species was established for some years after being introduced in Hereford in 1913, and may occasionally be encountered (especially in southwest England?) as a result of deliberate introductions or sporadic migration.

Distribution. English Midlands, Wales, southeast England, central southern England, southwest England, and Isle of Wight (?).

Comments. The spectacular seasonal divergence in wing colour-patterning was discussed at length by Ford (1945). It has been shown experimentally to reflect responses to different temperature regimes experienced in the larval and pupal stages.

Classification. Superfamily Papilionoidea. Nymphalidae.

Illustrations. • Araschnia levana (Map Butterfly): Spring and Summer forms. • Araschnia levana (Spring and Summer): Hübner. • Araschnia levana (Map Butterfly, Spring and Summer): Kirby, 1907). • Larvae and pupae of Araschnia levana (first and second broods): Duponchel (1849).

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies. Version: 16th May 2016.’.