Cardinal (Argynnis pandora)
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2022 photographs highlighted in blue. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
|2661_female_Var_11Jul06 - Argynnis paphia, form valezina|
This is a majestic beast. It has superficially similar upperside markings to the Silver-washed Fritillary (A. paphia) but is somewhat larger and a beautiful bronze colour rather than paphia's orange (except for female paphia of the form valezina - or valesina - which is the green form). The unh is also green with similar markings to paphia, although the lower part of the unf is a deep rose red, which is a clear indicator of pandora. It is a butterfly of the deep south, not quite extending to central France, but it does occur along the west coast. According to Lafranchis, the flight period is from mid-May to the end of September in one long generation; it certainly emerges in May in Var and is usually in evidence mainly because it is a powerful flier and very large, so it can hardly be missed.
Whether that means it is common is another matter. Whereas I had seen quite a few in May/early June 2006, I did not see any more until late August and these were very fresh as can be seen in the photographs above, suggesting to me that they were second generation, not late emergers from a single generation.
However, the question remains as to whether they emerge in May and (or at least some of them) go into aestivation, or summer hibernation, only to re-emerge looking fresh in September. This second generation (if, in fact, it is) is quite abundant, especially in September. The fact that they seem more abundant in September would seem to argue that a second generation is more probable than aestivation.
It is a magnificent butterfly, not only in flight but also in its markings and colouring. The larger female is very heavily marked and the male is similar in colouring, with broad dark upf sex brands on veins 2 and 3. The unh of the male is a more consistent green, whereas the female has prominent silvery streaks, so they sexes can be determined from an underside view alone. This is another butterfly where the female seems to be more in evidence than the male.
|31550||M||a male, taking salts (puddling). This is the only occasion I have seen a male pandora doing this, and, as noted above, males seem less numerous than females, which is contrary to what might be expected in that males are normally more in evidence.||20|
|49236||M||a first-generation male.||140|
a female, slightly less bronze than the other females on this page.
another female, more clearly demonstrating the bronze effect.
|4212||F||a female, probably the most suffused bronze I have ever seen.||60|
|25777||F||a female, probably quite typical.||880|
|9326||F||a female, quite light in comparison to most.||920|
|25901||M||a male underside, nicely capturing the pale green colouring so characteristic of male pandora.||680|
a male underside, strong consistent green ground colour and much reduced silvery streaks. The forewing is sufficiently raised to show the rose-red.
another female from the same location as 9579, showing the enhanced green reflective sheen on the underside.
a female underside, probably quite typical, with the silvery streaks more pronounced than the male.
a large female, the forewing being sufficiently far forward to show the rose-red colouring quite clearly.
a female paphia of the form valezina, for comparison purposes.
2661_female_Var_11Jul06 - Argynnis paphia, form valezina