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Queen of Spain Fritillary; Sofia

Issoria lathonia


The very distinctive large silver spots on the underside hindwings mean that this butterfly is unlikely to be confused with any other species. Both sexes are very similar in appearance, although the female is slightly larger, with a shorter abdomen and a more greenish hue around the base of the upperside wings. The sexes can more easily be distinguished by their behaviour - females are sedentary, while males actively pursue all passing butterflies. In Europe there are 3 generations of this species, emerging in March/April, July, and September in lowland areas. In mountainous areas there is usually only a single brood which emerges in late June and remains on the wing until the end of August. Hibernation can occur in any stage of the lifecycle depending on location and climate, but most commonly occurs in the egg stage or as young larvae. They are laid singly on the stems and leaves of the foodplants, and probably also on surrounding stems and leaf litter. Oviposition sites are invariably in dry sheltered situations where vegetation is sparse. The caterpillars are velvety black, heavily sprinkled with tiny white dots, and adorned with rows of dull orange spikes along the back and sides. They feed on field pansy Viola arvensis, wild pansy V. tricolor, and sweet violet V. odorata, but do not normally feed on other Viola species. Prior to pupation the larvae wander aimlessly for 2 or 3 days without feeding, and eventually attach themselves by the tail to a button of silk spun on the underside of a leaf, or a low stem. The pupa, which wriggles frantically if disturbed, is blackish-olive colour, marked with small white patches on the abdomen, which is adorned with a series of stubby white spikes. It bears a strong resemblance to a bird dropping.


Evergreen oak forest.


Camera Model: NIKON D300. Exposure Time: 1/800 sec.; f/14; ISO Speed Rating: 800. Focal Length: 300.0 mm. No Flash

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Spotted by

Madrid, Comunidad de Madrid, Spain

Spotted on May 16, 2014
Submitted on Jun 25, 2014

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