Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan 52–70 mm; the fringes conspicuously light-and-dark banded. Slender-bodied to medium built; short-bodied. The eyes glabrous. Antennae reaching noticeably less than halfway to the wingtips, or reaching about halfway to the wingtips. The antennal clubs gradual-elongate to abrupt; curved to not curved; flattened (blunt, pale-tipped). Labial palps ascending. Having only 4 fully developed legs. Fore-legs without a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred.

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt. The outer and hind margins angled at about 108–110 degrees. The outer margins convexly curved to more or less straight; scalloped (but less emphatically so than the hindwings). Uppersides of the forewings dark brown; contrastingly dark-veined; eye-spotted. The eye-spots 2; posterior towards the apex and mid-posterior. Uppersides of the forewings without a discal mark; with a large, suffused pale ochreous posterior band, this interupted by dark veins and containing two dark fuscous, pale-centred eye-spots.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded; with the outer margins scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings dark brown; conspicuously dark-veined; conspicuously patterned. Uppersides of the hindwings eye-spotted. The eye-spots 1; near the tornus. Uppersides of the hindwings without a discal mark; colour-patterned similarly to the forewings, but the upper eye-spot absent.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings patterned like the uppersides but paler; eye-spotted. The eye-spots 2 (conspicuous, dark-ringed); posterior towards the apex and near the tornus (the larger towards the apex, the smaller towards the tornus).

Undersides of the hindwings cryptically colour-patterned in browns and strigulated with dark fuscous; without a discal mark.

Wing venation. Forewings 12 veined; with basally dilated veins; vein 12 basally dilated; the lower margin of the discal cell basally dilated; vein 1b somewhat basally dilated to not dilated. Forewings with 1 tubular anal vein; the anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only; vein 1b simple. Forewings with a discal cell; vein 2 departing from the cell less than three-quarters of the distance from its base (from about halfway). Forewing veins 8 and 9 out of 7, 10–12 clearly separate.

Hindwings 9 veined; without a praecostal spur; with 2 anal veins; exhibiting vein 1a; the anal veins comprising 1a and 1b. Hindwings with a closed discal cell; the transverse vein complete. 7 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs sub-globular to barrel-shaped (very shortly cylindric to subspherical, with a slight apical depression); longitudinally ribbed (with numerous - more than 26? - ribs). The larvae without bristly spines; exposed feeders, or concealed feeders (sometimes subterranean by day). On grasses.

Pupae smooth and rounded; plain (wholly of a deep red-mahogany colour); without shining-metallic markings; concealed (in a loose cocoon a little below the surface of the soil); not suspended.

British representation. 1 species. IHipparchia semele (Grayling). The adults abroad July and August.

Status in Britain. Indigenous.

Distribution. Northern Scotland, southern Scotland, northern England, English Midlands, East Anglia, Wales, southeast England, central southern England, southwest England, Isle of Wight, and Ireland. Frequenting open places. Habitats calcareous and non-calcareous.

Classification. Superfamily Papilionoidea. Satyridae.

Illustrations. • Hipparchia semele (Grayling): photos. • Hipparchia semele (Grayling): egg, larva, cocoon, pupa. • Larva and pupa of H. semele: 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.’.