Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae/malvoides)

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2020 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

14714_male_Var_22Apr09 16790_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun09 05_16-32_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jun05
40250_male_Var_23Apr16 40353_male_Var_29Apr16 40874_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul16
46989_male_Buckinghamshire, UK_18May20 46987_male_Buckinghamshire, UK_18May20 47162_male_Savoie_10Jul20
taras_location unknown_1998 47160_male_Savoie_10July20 31324_female_Savoie_18Jul12
28852_female_Var_26Apr12 10596_female_Var_19May08 42354_female_Var_11Apr17
46459_female_Var_13Jul19 14468_male_Rhône_12Apr09 32522_male_Alpes-Maritimes_2Jun13
 
34665_male_Var_3May14 45893_female_Var_20Apr19  
One of several Pyrgus species that occur in France, but the only representative of this group in the UK. Malvae is slightly smaller than most other Pyrgus, and rather darker. The white marks are quite extensive, more so than most Pyrgus, and the (usually arched) submarginal marks are usually present to a greater or lesser degree, strongly on the uph and to a lesser extent on the upf.

It is an early emerger, being on the wing in France from the end of April and single-brooded, although malvoides (see opposite) is double brooded in non-mountainous regions. I feel the cleft "clothes peg" discal mark, which appears on both the uph and the unh, is a clear indicator of malvae where there may otherwise be doubt. This mark may sometimes, even in fresh specimens, be reduced almost to a horizontal line (40250, 47160 and 42354 are examples of this).

In addition, the underside is quite dark brown with pronounced yellower veins and distinctly smaller marks than other Pyrgus.

An occasional form of malvae is termed taras, where the upf discal marks, especially in s2, are elongated. I have only seen this form on three occasions in the past twenty years, although I have seen reports that it is frequently encountered in at least one UK location.

In south-west Europe, including the southern half of France, the subspecies malvoides occurs in place of malvae. It is generally said to be indistinguishable from malvae on external characteristics (only by examination of the genitalia) although I have seen it commented that the upperside submarginal marks are less distinct in malvoides. From the UK specimens on this page, clearly malvae, this seems to be broadly true.

All of the photographs from France on this page are, I believe, malvoides, (with the possible exception of 14468) and this feature seems to hold true here. It is suggested that intermediate forms may occur in the boundary area in central France.

In 2020, courtesy of Covid-19, I spent May in the UK which allowed an opportunity to visit malvae sites and get photographs of what are clearly malvae rather than malvoides.

In the new European taxonomy, malvoides is now given the status of a species in its own right, no longer a subspecies of malvae. However, the separation is not entirely clear and I have included both on this page for comparison purposes.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
14714 M

rather indistinct white markings in the usual places and some rather faint markings in the remaining areas.

220
16790 M

a deep dark brown ground colour and strong white markings plus a white-ish band in the upf submarginal area. As such it could not be confused with any other Pyrgus species.

900
05_16-32 M

the rare aberration taras with extended white upf marks, which I had (as of 2005) only seen on two occasions.

 
40250 M a typically-marked male with a cold grey-brown ground colour. 140
40353 M a male with a rather large cell spot and an untypical warmish brown ground colour. 220
40874 M a male from high altitude with extensive white markings, giving it a rather pale appearance. 2300
46989 M clearly malvae, as from the UK, and confirming that the uph markings are stronger and clearer than malvoides. 220
46987 M also malvae, as from the UK, but the markings are less clearly delineated than 46989, but still more so than for malvoides. 220
47162 M very obliging for these two malvoides to pose together, the normal form on the left and a semi-taras on the right. It is not as extreme as the taras below, but it is the first time I had seen this form since 2005. 1930
taras M an extreme form of taras. I have no recollection of where or when this photograph was taken, probably in 1998 or most likely earlier as my notebook was stolen in 1998 (in a car break-in). Since then I have recorded all sightings and kept the records on computer as well as handwritten.  
47160 M a rather dusky malvoides with extended upf markings. It was seen at the same location as 47162, thus showing the degree of variation of this species at the same time and location. I did originally wonder if it was a female based on the body shape, but the apparent hair tuft at the end of the abdomen and the fact that it appeared to be taking salts from the ground persuaded me that it was more likely to be a male. 1930
31324 F a typical malvae, probably a female based on the body shape. 2180
28852 F

a rather worn female, but included here because of the large upf marks, especially the cell spot.

220
10596 F

very sharply marked with highly sagittate submarginal markings, especially on the uph. A rather more worn male is approaching from below.

230
42354 F a female, showing the uph discal mark to be simply a straight line, even in a fresh specimen such as 42354 and not as a result of ageing. This is not untypical for this species (see also 40250). 220
46459 F a female presumably taking moisture for the damp ground. 680
14468 M?

a male, I think, even though the abdominal hair tuft is not entirely clear. The small discrete white marks show up well against the darker ground colour. The s1 discal mark is minute even by malvae standards, and the s2 discal mark is completely absent.

320
32522 M a male, roosting in overcast conditions. The unh ground colour is quite dark and reddish for this species. 1080
34665 M a male roosting is overcast conditions. The markings are quite large by malvae standards and some of them are nicely black-edged, especially the discal mark in s4/5. The photograph was taken in very poor light using ISO 800 (I usually use ISO 100), hence the grainy nature of the photograph. 220
45893 F a female, not a great shot but I did not have a malvae photograph of a known female underside. Not that it could be differentiated from a male on the basis of the underside alone. 220

 

14714_male_Var_22Apr09

 

16790_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun09

 

05_16-32_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jun05

 

40250_male_Var_23Apr16

 

40353_male_Var_29Apr16

 

40874_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul16

 

46989_male_Buckinghamshire, UK_18May20

 

46987_male_Buckinghamshire, UK_18May20

 

47162_male_Savoie_10Jul20

 

47160_male_Savoie_10Jul20

 

31324_female_Savoie_18Jul12

 

28852_female_Var_26Apr12

 

10596_female_Var_19May08

 

42354_female_Var_11Apr17

 

46459_female_Var_13Jul19

 

14468_male_Rhône_12Apr09

 

32522_male_Alpes-Maritimes_2Jun13

 

34665_male_Var_3May14

 

45893_female_Var_20Apr19