Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina)
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2017 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
I have not found lucina to be common in France by any means, and it does not seem to occur in my local patch in Var. I have seen it in greater numbers in the nearby Alpes-Maritimes and Hautes-Alpes and in more central locations such as the Côte-d'Or. In Provence it is usually found at altitudes of around 1000m, although, as 25673 shows, it can be found at much higher altitudes.
It is also found in the UK, although restricted to a limited number of sites, principally in the south. It is declining rapidly in numbers in the UK and its existence is considered to be threatened.
It rarely nectars on flowers and the females tend to be elusive, spending most of their time egg-laying. Males are rather territorial and spend most of their time basking on low vegetation.
The male can be quite dark, while the female generally has lighter markings to a greater or lesser degree. The female tends to be noticeably larger in my experience, and particularly orange females can almost resemble a small fritillary which explains why it was (erroneously) known by the early entomologists as the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary and believed to be a fritillary. Even as recently as 2004, in TLID it is still referred to as "Fritillary". The current taxonomy has dropped the word Fritillary from the English name of this species.
It is the only European representative of the Riodinidae genus (also known as "Metalmarks") in Europe, although the genus is extensive worldwide with over 1000 species, the majority residing in the American tropics. They are known as Metalmarks because of the metallic appearance of spots on the wings, although that is not the case for lucina. They are closely related to Lycaenidae (blues, coppers, hairstreaks).
|29601||M||a fairly typical male, perhaps a little lightly marked.||1400|
|32457||M||a male, quite fresh and rather dark.||1400|
|32486||M||a male, very similar to 32457 but not actually the same butterfly.||1130|
|32950||M||a male, an open wing shot taken in cloudy conditions as it absorbs the rays of the hazy sun.||1120|
|37206||M||a typical male.||670|
|40631||M||a rather dusky male. 40646 is the underside.||430|
|29618||F||a very lightly marked female, much lighter than any other lucina I have seen.||1400|
|32961||F||a female, based on body shape and colouring, although nowhere near as orange as 29618.||1120|
clearly a female on body shape and lighter orange markings.
|37230||M||a rare opportunity for an underside shot.||800|
|40646||M||the underside of 40631 in typical territorial pose.||430|
|25673||F||a female, in the Hautes-Alpes. Lafranchis gives the altitude range as 0-1700m, sometimes higher in the Hautes-Pyrénées, but 25673 was seen in the Hautes-Alpes at 1900m, some way above the stated range.||1900|