Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan 45–56 mm; the fringes conspicuously light-and-dark banded. Slender-bodied to medium built; short-bodied. The eyes hairy. Antennae reaching noticeably less than halfway to the wingtips; extending to about 0.33–0.4 times the length of the forewing. The antennal clubs gradual-elongate; curved; not flattened (tapered to the dark tip). 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 98–100 degrees. The outer margins slightly convexly curved to more or less straight, or concavely curved; scalloped (but less emphatically so than the hindwings). Uppersides of the forewings dark fuscous, or dark brown; eye-spotted. The eye-spots 1; posterior towards the apex. Uppersides of the forewings without a discal mark; darkly fuscous, with light ochreous to creamy yellowish blotches beneath the costa, in the disc and subterminally, and a sub-apical blotch or two spots associated with a small, black-ringed ocellus.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded; with the outer margins scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings dark fuscous, or dark brown; conspicuously patterned. Uppersides of the hindwings eye-spotted. The eye-spots 3(–4); mid-posterior to near the tornus. Uppersides of the hindwings ambiguously with a conspicuous discal mark, or without a discal mark; dark fuscous, patterned in light ochreous- or creamy-yellowish with a costal spot, a discal one and an interrupted subterminal band, the latter containing 3(-4) conspicuous black-ringed ocelli.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings colour-patterned similarly to the uppersides; eye-spotted. The eye-spots 1 (black, pale-centred); posterior towards the apex (corresponding with the one on the upper surface).

Undersides of the hindwings quite complexly patterned but much paler than the uppersides, with less conspicuous subterminal ocelli; fairly inconspicuously eye-spotted. The eye-spots 2–5; mid-posterior to near the tornus, or near the mid-costa, mid-posterior, and near the tornus. Undersides of the hindwings 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 scarcely 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 (before halfway). Forewing veins 8 and 9 out of 7, with 10 and 11 separate from the cell.

Hindwings 9 veined; with a praecostal spur to without a praecostal spur (this very inconspicuous); 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 3+4 proximally joined (on the cell).

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs sub-globular; more or less smooth, or reticulate (only very finely reticulated). The larvae hairy (very short-haired); without bristly spines; exposed feeders. On grasses.

Pupae smooth and rounded; conspicuously patterned to plain (pale green, with brown or whitish markings); exposed, with no coccoon; suspended from the tail (cremaster), with no median silk girdle.

British representation. 1 species. Pararge aegeria (Speckled Wood). The adults abroad May to October, or April.

Status in Britain. Indigenous.

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

Classification. Superfamily Papilionoidea. Satyridae.

Illustrations. • Pararge aegeria (Speckled Wood): photos. • Pararge aegeria (Speckled Wood: photos, Giles Watson). • Pararge aegeria (Speckled Wood): egg, larva, pupa. • Larvae of P. aegeria and other Satyridae: 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.’.