Dusky Meadow Brown (Hyponephele lycaon)

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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.

44542_female_Alpes-Maritimes_18Jul17 17584_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09 26093_male_Alpes-Maritimes_02Jul11
26554_male_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11 35897_male_Alpes-Maritimes_5Jul14 38358_male_Drôme_10Jul15
44549_female_Alpes-Maritimes_18Jul17 3914_female_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_15Aug06 26374_female_Alpes-Maritimes_06Jul11

Lycaon is smaller and with slightly different markings to the ubiquitous Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina). One key to differentiating between them is the unh "roughness" - lycaon is quite speckled (H&R uses the descriptive but slightly archaic term "irrorated") and jurtina is quite smooth.

 

It is very hard to differentiate between lycaon, which I find quite commonly at altitude from August onward, and the much scarcer Oriental Meadow Brown (H. lupina), and I have addressed this in detail on the lupina page, albeit raising more questions than answers. It is best to have a clear view of the upperside, but I have never found lycaon to settle with wings open, even briefly.

I believe all of these on this page are lycaon, with varying degrees of confidence. The unh varies quite greatly, and the contrast across the post-discal band is more pronounced in the female, although less so in 3914 (which is clearly female because of the two unf ocelli (the male does not have the lower ocellus), and virtually non-existent in some cases.

 

Lycaon seems to me to be a butterfly of higher altitudes, unlike jurtina and to some extent lupina. I have never found lycaon at less than 1000m, and mostly at altitudes considerably higher, up to 2000m.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
44542 F this is the same individual as 44549, but this photograph is included as it shows a glimpse of the upperside, not normally seen as lycaon rarely settles with open wings. 1550
17584 M

a male, quite dark but with strong orange colouring on the unf.

1000
26093 M a very typical male lycaon. It has some degree of submarginal shading. 1400
26554 M a male, with a distinctly greyish colouring, and rather brownish submarginal shading. 1400
35897 M a male, a good example of lycaon with a strong discal line. 1000
38358 M the rough texture and heavy but indistinct discal line point very strongly toward lycaon. 1220
44549 F a female underside, the same individual as 44542.  
3914 F

two ocelli are clearly visible (confirming female), the lower with no white centre, discal line very faint, both of the latter features suggest lupina, but again the outer edge of the hindwing is too rounded, and the relatively light scalloping point clearly to lycaon. The large unf s6 ocellus is also a strong indicator of lycaon. Regarding the lower unf ocellus, the books show this as small and blind (i.e. with no white centre or "pupil") for female lupina, but larger and with a white centre for female lycaon. The ocelli of all species seem to vary quite substantially, so the ocelli can only be used as a definitive identifier where it is known to be so. The altitude is way above the range for lupina, removing any residual doubt.

1800
26374 F a female, typical lycaon with grey colouring, rough texture and a clear discal line. 1000

 

44542_female_Alpes-Maritimes_18Jul17

 

17584_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09

 

26093_male_Alpes-Maritimes_02Jul11

 

26554_male_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11

 

35897_male_Alpes-Maritimes_5Jul14

 

38358_male_Drôme_10Jul15

 

44549_female_Alpes-Maritimes_18Jul17

 

3914_female_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_15Aug06

 

26374_female_Alpes-Maritimes_06Jul11