Butterflies of Andalusia

Festival of Mediterranean species at low altitude – rarities and endemisms in the mountains.

150 butterflies species

Endemism in Eastern mountains

On the wing the whole year

Monarch populations

Check-list butterflies of Andalusia

Butterflies : four-wings insects covered with colored scales and feeding on the nectar of flowers at adult stage, which appears after the metamorphosis of an herbivorous caterpillar.

With its 150 butterflies, Andalusia is home to  roughly 40% of European butterfly diversity if you don’t take in account the 54 species of the Erebia, a difficult genus of mostly small-ranged mountain endemics… Andalusia’s butterfly fauna encompasses the range of  European butterfly diversity.

Many of Andalusia’s species are typical of the Mediterranean region, best illustrated by some common species in the sector:

  • Southern Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii)
  • Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina)
  • Cleopatra  Gonepteryx cleopatra)
  • Provence orange tip (Anthocharis euphenoides)
  • Sage skipper (Muschampia proto)
  • Two-tailed pasha (Charaxes jasius)
  • Southern gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia).

Here, a few common northern European species are frankly scarce and attain the southern limit of their range, such as:

  • Paecock (Aglais io)
  • Green-veined White (Pieris napi)
  • Comma (Polygonia c-album)
  • Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia).

We must note the Apollo (Parnassius apollo), a boreo-alpine species restricted to Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Baza-Filabres and Sierra Maria.

And to give more flavour to any field trip to Spain, there are several butterflies shared only with North Africa:

 

  • Mediterranean skipper (Gegenes nostradamus) -common-
  • Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus)
  • Southern Blue (Polyommatus celina) -common-
  • Lorquin’s Blue (Cupido lorquini)
  • False Baton Blue (Pseudophilotes abencerragus)
  • African grass blue (Zizeeria knysna) -common-
  • Common Tiger Blue (Tarucus theophrastus)
  • Aetherie fritillary (Melitaea aetherie)
  • Southern Hermit (Chazara prieuri)
  • Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines) -common-
  • Desert Orange Tip (Colotis evagore) -Autumn species-
  • Sooty Orange Tip (Zegris eupheme) -Spring species-

Butterflies of Andalusia: Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina) is on the wing from the end of winter and which actively seeks sunhine during the beautiful days of this cold season. What a show!

The Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus) is a superb little butterfly whose caterpillar inhabits the large pods of the Betic milkvetch (Erophaca baetica).

A pair of Southern Common Blue (Polyommatus celina), a widespread species distributed in North Africa, Canary Islands, Iberian peninsula and western Mediterranean islands.

Chase Hill-topping species

Large species of butterflies which live at low population densities across the landscape will fly uphill in order to meet a mate on a hilltop, where they chase each other, a behaviour best seen (at least by myself) in Serrania de Ronda… Dances of Southern Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and even Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) are extraordinarily attractive, but difficult to capture on camera.

Look at Butterflies gatherings

Blues (Lycaenidae) and Skippers (Hesperiidae) can join in spectacular gatherings during late springs and summers at banks of water points or streams, mostly easily seen in mountain areas. They explore (puddle) wet mud and gravels for salts and minerals from the soil and probably also hydrating. Tens, even thousands, of butterflies can be seen together, sometimes joined by fritillaries (Nymphalidae). What memories!

Observe the migration

Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) is a large and attractive butterfly, well known in the whole Europe… and for a very good reason since it is a migratory species. In fact, it has been recently discovered this species realizes longer journey than Monarchs, moving every year through and back from Gambia to Scandinavia, though it does it in waves of  successive generations rather than individual travelling the full distance. It is possible to observe this fascinating behaviour, especially in years of strong migration. Other migrants include: Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Clouded Yellow (Clouded corceus) and Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia).

 

Butterflies of Andalusia: panted lady

Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) sipping nectar from blue throatwort (Trachelium caeruleum), a surprising Campanulaceae, and one of the few flowers that blooms in summer.

In summer, search for source of nectar

With severe drought and mostly dry vegetation, nectar is extremely scarce in summer, of course in lowlands but also in the mountains. Search for thistles (Asteraceae Carduinae) or eryngos (Eryngium spp) in grazed fields, and blue throatworts (Trachelium caeruleum) along shaded road verges. Those plants are blossoming late in season and attract the butterflies, thirsty and confident… You can expect nice sessions of photography.

Attract the Two-tailed Pasha

This strong flyer, whose caterpillar feeds on Strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), is attracted by tree sap and rotten fruits… Just lay a few items in a quiet place and you might be surprised by the result.

The large wall brown (Lasiommata maera) is not uncommon at the Serrania de Ronda.

106 species have been inventoried in Western Andalusia, especially in the provinces of Malaga and Cadiz. Those are in most cases lowland and widespread species which are more abundant in spring (march-may). Only a visit to Eastern Andalusia will add the endemics and the rare butterflies restricted to the mountain ranges (Sierra Nevada, Segura, Magina, Baza, etc.) and on the fly up to early summer, a season when most Andalusia is very dry and hostile to butterflies.

Another feature of Andalusian mountains is the presence of a unique species, namely Spanish Brassy Ringlet (Erebia hispania) the sole southern species within this genus which is very frequent and species-rich in northern Spain. So what makes our mountains special? A very diverse fauna of Blues (Polyommatinae) with up to 36 spp., many of them endemic or scarce throughout Europe. We can add the iconic, albeit rare, Betic/Nevada Grayling (Pseudochazara williamsi).

Let’s finish this review with a recently described species: the Spanish Greenish Black-tip (Euchloe bazae), mostly restricted to Baza depression.

The excellent book on Sierra Nevada butterflies (PDF in Spanish).

Some Western Andalusia specialties :

 

  • The Strait of Gibraltar is home to populations of Zeller’s Skipper (Borbo borbonica) and Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
Butterflies of Andalusia

Butterflies:list of species present in Andalusia

#

Family

Subfamily

Species

Common name

1 Hesperiidae Hesperiinae Borbo borbonica Zeller’s Skipper
2 Hesperiidae Hesperiinae Gegenes nostrodamus Mediterranean Skipper
3 Hesperiidae Hesperiinae Hesperia comma Silver-spotted Skipper
4 Hesperiidae Hesperiinae Ochlodes sylvanus Large Skipper
5 Hesperiidae Hesperiinae Thymelicus acteon Lulworth Skipper
6 Hesperiidae Hesperiinae Thymelicus lineola Small Skipper
7 Hesperiidae Hesperiinae Thymelicus sylvestris Essex Skipper
8 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Carcharodus alceae Mallow Skipper
9 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Carcharodus baeticus Southern Marbled Skipper
10 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Carcharodus floccifera Tufted Marbled Skipper
11 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Carcharodus lavatherae Marbled Skipper
12 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Carcharodus tripolinus False Mallow Skipper
13 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Erynnis tages Dingy Skipper
14 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Muschampia proto Sage Skipper
15 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus alveus Large Grizzled Skipper
16 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus armoricanus Oberthür’s Grizzled Skipper
17 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus cirsii (non Carlinae) Cinqfoil Skipper
18 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus fritillarius Safflower Skipper
19 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus malvae Grizzled Skipper
20 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus malvoides Southern Grizzled Skipper
21 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus onopordi Rosy Grizzled Skipper
22 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Pyrgus serratulae Olive Skipper
23 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Spialia rosae Roses Red-underwing Skipper
24 Hesperiidae Pyrginae Spialia sertorius Red-underwing Skipper
25 Lycaenidae Lycaeninae Lycaena alciphron Purple-shot Copper
26 Lycaenidae Lycaeninae Lycaena phlaeas Small Copper
27 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Agriades zullichi Zullich´s Blue
28 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Aricia cramera Southern Brown Argus
29 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Aricia montensis Verity´s Montain Argus
30 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Aricia morronensis Spanish Argus
31 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Cacyreus marshalli Geranium Bronze
32 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Celastrina argiolus Holly Blue
33 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Cupido carswelli Carswell´s Blue
34 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Cupido lorqinii Lorquin’s Blue
35 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Cupido osiris Osiris Blue
36 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Cyaniris semiargus Mazarine Blue
37 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Eumedonia eumedon Geranium Argus
38 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Glaucopsyche alexis Green-underside Blue
39 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Glaucopsyche melanops Black-eyed Blue
40 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Iolana debilitata Moorish Iolas
41 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Lampides boeticus Long-tailed Blue
42 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Leptotes pirithous Short-tailed Blue
43 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Lysandra albicans Spanish Chalk-hill Blue
44 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Lysandra bellargus Adonis Blue
45 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Plebejus argus Silver-studded Blue
46 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Plebejus hesperica Rambur´s Blue
47 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Plebejus idas Idas Blue
48 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus amandus Amanda’s blue
49 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus celina Southern Blue
50 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus dorylas Turquoise Blue
51 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus escheri Escher’s Blue
52 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus fabressei Oberthür´s Anomalous Blue
53 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus golgus Sierra Nevada Blue
54 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus nivescens Mother-of-pearl Blue
55 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus sagratrox La Sagra Blue
56 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Polyommatus thersites Chapman’s blue
57 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Pseudophilotes abencerragus False Baton Blue
58 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Pseudophilotes panoptes Panoptes Blue
59 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Scolitandites orion Chequered Blue
60 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Tarucus theophrastus Common Tiger Blue
61 Lycaenidae Polyommatinae Zizeeria knysna African Grass Blue
62 Lycaenidae Theclinae Callophrys avis Chapman’s Green Hairstreak
63 Lycaenidae Theclinae Callophrys rubi Green Hairstreak
64 Lycaenidae Theclinae Favonia quercus Purple Hairstreak
65 Lycaenidae Theclinae Laeosopis roboris Spanish Purple Hairstreak
66 Lycaenidae Theclinae Satyrium esculi False Ilex Hairstreak
67 Lycaenidae Theclinae Satyrium ilicis Ilex Hairstreak
68 Lycaenidae Theclinae Satyrium spini Blue Spot Hairstreak
69 Lycaenidae Theclinae Tomares ballus Provence Hairstreak
70 Nymphalidae Charaxinae Charaxes jasius Two-tailed Pasha
71 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Argynnis adippe High Brown Fritillary
72 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Argynnis aglaja Dark Green Fritillary
73 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Argynnis niobe Niobe Fritillary
74 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Argynnis pandora Cardinal
75 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Argynnis paphia Silver-washed Fritillary
76 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Brenthis daphne Marbled Fritillary
77 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Brenthis hecate Twin-spot Fritillary
78 Nymphalidae Heliconiinae Issoria lathonia Queen of Spain Fritillary
79 Nymphalidae Libytheidinae Libythea celtis Nettle-Tree Butterfly
80 Nymphalidae Limenitinae Limenitis reducta Southern White Admiral
81 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Aglais io Paecock
82 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Aglais urticae Small Tortoiseshell
83 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Danaus chrysippus Plain Tiger
84 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Danaus plexippus Monarch
85 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Euphydryas aurinia Marsh Fritillary
86 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Euphydryas desfontainii Spanish Fritillary
87 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Melitaea aetherie Aetherie Fritillary
88 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Melitaea cinxia Glanville Fritillary
89 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Melitaea deione Provençal Fritillary
90 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Melitaea didyma Spotted Fritillary
91 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Melitaea parthenoides Meadow Fritillary
92 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Melitaea phoebe Knapweed Fritillary
93 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Melitaea trivia Lesser Spotted Fritillary
94 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Mellicta athalia Heath Fritillary
95 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Nymphalis polychloros Large Tortoiseshell
96 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Polygonia c-album Comma
97 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Vanessa  America Painted Lady
98 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral
99 Nymphalidae Nymphalinae Vanessa cardui Painted Lady
100 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Arethusana arethusa False Grayling
101 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Chazara briseis The Hermit
102 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Chazara prieuri Southern Hermit
103 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Coenonympha dorus Dusky Heath
104 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Coenonympha glycerion Chestnut Heath
105 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Coenonympha pamphilus Small Heath
106 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Erebia hispania Sierra Nevada Brassy Ringlet
107 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Hipparchia fidia Striped Grayling
108 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Hipparchia hermione Rock Grayling
109 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Hipparchia semele Grayling
110 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Hipparchia statilinus Tree Grayling
111 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Hyponephele lupina Oriental Meadow Brown
112 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Hyponephele lycaon Dusky Meadow Brown
113 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Kanetisa circe Great Banded Grayling
114 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Lasiommata maera Large Wall Brown
115 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Lasiommata megera Wall Brown
116 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Maniola jurtina Meadow Brown
117 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Melanargia ines Spanish Marbled White
118 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Melanargia lachesis Iberian Marbled White
119 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Melanargia occitanica Western Marbled White
120 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Melanargia russiae Esper’s Marbled White
121 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Pararge aegeria Speckled Wood
122 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Pseudochazara williamsi Nevada Grayling
123 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Pyronia bathseba Spanish Gatekeeper
124 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Pyronia cecilia Southern Gatekeeper
125 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Pyronia tithonus Gatekeeper
126 Nymphalidae Satyrinae Satyrus actaea Black Satyr
127 Papilionidae Papilioninae Iphiclides feisthamelii Southern scarce swallowtail
128 Papilionidae Papilioninae Papilio machaon Swallowtail
129 Papilionidae Papilioninae Parnassius apollo Apollo
130 Papilionidae Papilioninae Zerynthia rumina Spanish Festoon
131 Pieridae Coliadinae Colias alfacariensis Berger’s Clouded Yellow
132 Pieridae Coliadinae Colias croceus Clouded Yellow
133 Pieridae Coliadinae Gonepteryx cleopatra Cleopatra
134 Pieridae Coliadinae Gonepteryx rhamni Brimstone
135 Pieridae Dismorphiinae Leptidea sinapis Wood White
136 Pieridae Pierinae Anthocharis cardamines Orange Tip
137 Pieridae Pierinae Anthocharis euphenoides Provence Orange Tip
138 Pieridae Pierinae Aporia crataegi Black-veined White
139 Pieridae Pierinae Colotis evagore Desert Orange Tip
140 Pieridae Pierinae Euchloe bazae Spanish Greenish Black Tip
141 Pieridae Pierinae Euchloe belemia Green-Striped Dappled White
142 Pieridae Pierinae Euchloe crameri Western Dappled White
143 Pieridae Pierinae Euchloe tagis Portuguese Dappled White
144 Pieridae Pierinae Pieris brassicae Large White
145 Pieridae Pierinae Pieris mannii Southern Small White
146 Pieridae Pierinae Pieris napi Green-veined White
147 Pieridae Pierinae Pieris rapae Small White
148 Pieridae Pierinae Pontia daplidice Bath White
149 Pieridae Pierinae Zegris eupheme Sooty Orange Tip

 

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