Friday, November 09, 2007

False Ringlet Butterfly Coenonympha oedippus

A rare and very seriously threatened species. As is usually the case, habitat destruction is forever responsible for the decline of a rare species. I found it flying in an idyllic spot above Lake Como in 1997 in mid July. I revisited in the early season of 2003 when it was well out on mid summer's day, and probably had been flying for some weeks. I've heard reports that it is found further east on the southern slopes of the Alps, fairly widespread but always extremely local on limestone grasslands.

It flies low in the characteristic manner of the Coenonympha (Heaths) but is very plainly darker. It does not bask with wings open so I was very lucky to find this specimen flexing its wings in the shade of a tree trunk in extremely high temperatures. It can be seen to completely lack the more normal orange of the Coenonympha on the upperside. The bright underside eyespots are also diagnostic. Only the equally rare Coenonympha hero resembles this insect.

Photo and info from

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