Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan 28–34 mm; the fringes conspicuously light-and-dark banded. Medium built to heavily built; medium-bodied; large-headed. The eyes pale- but not white-rimmed; glabrous. Antennae reaching noticeably over halfway to the wingtip; inserted fully one half the width of the head apart. The antennal clubs gradual-elongate; curved to not curved; not flattened; minutely hooked at their tips to not hooked at their tips. Labial palps ascending (pointed). Having all 6 legs fully developed and operational for walking. Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs without spurs. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred, or 4-spurred.

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt to pointed. The outer and hind margins angled at about 100 degrees. The outer margins convexly curved; somewhat scalloped to not scalloped. Uppersides of the forewings fuscous; without a discal mark; dingy fuscous, with a transverse row of dark and faintly greenish tinged blotches towards the inner third of the disc, another post-median row, a conspicuous short row of cream dots subterminally from the costa near the apex, and several pale or cream median markings.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded, or trapezoidal; with the outer margins scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings fuscous; conspicuously patterned; with a conspicuous discal mark to without a discal mark; coloured and patterned like the forewings, being dingy fuscous with dark blotches, but without the cream markings.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings light khaki-brownish with complexes of paler markings.

Undersides of the hindwings light khaki-brownish with complexes of paler markings; with a conspicuous discal mark (a pale spot), or without a discal mark.

Wing venation. Forewings 12 veined. Forewings with 1 tubular anal vein; the anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only; vein 1b furcate proximally to simple. Forewing veins all separate.

Hindwings 8 veined; with a praecostal spur; with 2 anal veins; exhibiting vein 1a; the anal veins comprising 1a and 1b. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell (vein 5 absent). The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another. The hindwings lacking vein 5, 8 arising near the base of the cell and rapidly diverging.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. On Malvaceae.

British representation. 1 species. C. alceae (Mallow Skipper). The adults abroad May, or July and August.

Status in Britain. Rare ocurrence representing occasional, genuine immigrants, or adventive (?). Though seemingly recorded only once in Britain, from Surrey in 1923, this mainland-European species of open, dry places is common throughout France, and its occasional appearance in Britain would scarcely be surprising.

Distribution. Southwest England. Frequenting open places. Habitats calcareous and non-calcareous.

Classification. Superfamily Hesperoidea. Hesperiidae.

Illustrations. • Carcharodus alceae (Mallow Skipper): photo. • Carcharodus alceae (Mallow Skipper): larva (Le Cerf & Herbulot). • Carcharodus alceae (Mallow Skipper), Pyrgus armoricanus (Oberarthurís Grizzled Skipper): Kirby, 1907.

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.’.