Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Adults. Wingspan 29–70 mm; the fringes conspicuously light-and-dark banded, or not banded. Slender-bodied to medium built; short-bodied. The eyes not white-rimmed; hairy (Lasiommata, Pararge), or glabrous. Antennae reaching noticeably less than halfway to the wingtips (mostly), or reaching noticeably less than halfway to the wingtips to reaching about halfway to the wingtips. The antennal clubs gradual-elongate, or abrupt; curved to not curved; flattened (Lasiommata), or not flattened (mostly). Labial palps ascending. Having only 4 fully developed legs (the vestigial prothoracic legs brushlike, one-jointed in males but several-jointed in females). 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 91–110 degrees. The outer margins slightly concavely curved (rarely), or convexly curved to more or less straight; scalloped (Hipparchia, Lasiommata, Pararge), or not scalloped. Uppersides of the forewings cream, or light brown, or dark brown, or orange-brown, or black, or fuscous, or white (rarely); contrastingly dark-veined, or not conspicuously dark-veined; eye-spotted (nearly always), or without eye-spots (rarely). The eye-spots 1–6 (commonly with one larger); posterior towards the apex (usually), or posterior towards the apex and mid-posterior.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded; with the outer margins scalloped to with the outer margins not scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings conspicuously dark-veined, or not dark-veined; conspicuously patterned (with contrasting fasciae and/or eye-spots), or plain. Uppersides of the hindwings eye-spotted, or not eye-spotted. The eye-spots when present, 1–4(–6); posterior towards the apex, or mid-posterior, or near the tornus.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings not dark-veined, or conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; eye-spotted (usually), or not eye-spotted (notably in some forms of A. hyperanthus). The eye-spots 1–6; posterior towards the apex (often), or posterior towards the apex and mid-posterior, or posterior towards the apex and near the tornus.

Undersides of the hindwings not dark-veined, or conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; eye-spotted, or not eye-spotted.

Wing venation. Forewings 12(–13) veined; with basally dilated veins (involving at least vein 12). Forewings with 1 tubular anal vein, or with 2 tubular anal veins; the anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c; vein 1b simple.

Hindwings 9 veined (usually), or 10 veined (Lasiommata maera); with a praecostal spur, or without a praecostal spur; with 2 anal veins (usually), or with 3 anal veins (conspicuously so in L. maera); exhibiting vein 1a; the anal veins comprising 1a and 1b, or comprising 1a, 1b and 1c. 7 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another, or 3+4 proximally joined (on the cell, in Lasiommata and Pararge).

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs hemispherical (Aphantopus), or sub-globular, or barrel-shaped, or broadly conical; more or less smooth, or reticulate, or longitudinally ribbed. The larvae hairy (mostly short-haired); without bristly spines; exposed feeders (mostly), or concealed feeders (sometimes, in Hipparchia). All on Gramineae, a few also on Cyperaceae.

Pupae smooth and rounded; conspicuously patterned, or plain; without shining-metallic markings; exposed, with no coccoon (usually), or concealed; when exposed, suspended from the tail (cremaster), with no median silk girdle (usually), or not suspended, but attached at the tail and secured by a median girdle of silk.

British representation. Genera 9; 14 species (including 3 adventives). Aphantopus hyperanthus (Ringlet), Arethusana arethusa (False Grayling, adventive), Chazara briseis (Hermit, adventive), Coenonympha hero (‘Plastead's Brown Ringlet’, adventive), Coenonympha arcania? (‘Plastead's Tawny Ringlet’, adventive), Coenonympha pamphilus (Small Heath), Coenonympha tullia (Large Heath), Erebia aethiops (Scotch Argus), Erebia epiphron (Mountain Ringlet), Erebia ligea (Arran Brown), Hipparchia semele (Grayling), Lasiommata maera (Large-eyed Wall Brown, adventive), Lasiommata megera (Wall Brown), Maniola jurtina (Meadow Brown), Melanargia galathea (Marbled White), Pararge aegeria (Speckled Wood), Pyronia tithonus (Gatekeeper).

Distribution. Frequenting woodland and open places. Habitats calcareous and non-calcareous.

Comments. Mostly sombrely coloured in shades of brown or fuscuous, the flight usually rapid and irregular.

Classification. Superfamily Papilionoidea.

Illustrations. • Satyridae (1): Newman, 1871. • Satyridae (2): Newman, 1871. • Satyridae (3): Newman, 1871. • Satyridae (4): Newman, 1871.

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.’.