Spanish Marbled White Butterfly - Melanargia ines

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Lepidoptera - Family: Nymphalidae

Spanish Marbled White Butterfly, Melanargia ines

The Spanish Marbled White is more closely related to the 'browns' than to other white butterflies, as its subfamily Satyrinae suggests. One of the most beautiful of Europe's butterflies, despite an almost monochrome colouring when viewed from above, the Spanish Marbled White inhabits areas of wildflower-rich unimproved grassland. The brown ocelli on the undersides of the hindwings readily distinguish it from the Marbled White that is found in northern Europe.

Spanish Marbled White Butterfly, Melanargia ines, Carvoiero, Portugal

The wingspan of the Spanish Marbled White ranges between 4.5 and 5cm. The lovely specimen shown above was photographed by Rob Petley-Jones at Benagil, in the Algarve region of Portugal. We saw the specimen shown on the left near Carvoiero, less than 2km from the Algarve coastal cliffs, in early April..

Distribution

This butterfly is not recorded from Britain or Ireland.

On mainland Europe the Spanish Marbled White occurs in Spain and Portugal and in coastal countries of north Africa, with the greatest concentrations on the western side.

In the Balkans another similar butterfly could be confused with Melanargia ines, and that is the Balkan Marbled White, Melanargia larissa.

Spanish Marbled White Butterfly, Melanargia ines, Carvoiero, Portugal

Lifecycle

The larval foodplants are grasses - most commonly Heath False Brome, Brachypodium pinnatum, but quite often also other 'brome' grass species.

The Spanish Marbled White produces just a single brood. Depending on location and in particular on altitude above sea level, the adults emerge between early April and the end of June.

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