Butterflies & Moths

Large Copper (Lycaena dispar) M
Large Copper (Lycaena dispar) male, Prissac, Brenne. A difficult and unpredictable species with specialised habitat requirements
There are at least 240 butterfly species in France including Corsica, of which about 98 occur in the Brenne and 99 in the Vienne.
The best butterfly months are usually June and July, although May is always interesting as it is the first month a large selection of species can normally be seen. In particularly wet years, this can vary considerably, with August and even early September being very productive. As with birds, I have found the best sites for butterflies by walking the local footpaths, sentiers, using IGN maps available at the local supermarket, the blue series Carte de randonnee, scale 1:25000 (1cm = 250m), generally covering about 200-250 square kilometres. Secondly, check out the local Mairie and ask for information on the local sentiers. There is an extensive network of well-signposted public rights of way throughout the country, most are well maintained even though they are under-used. Departments/regions produce walking maps, one per sentier, usually a long loop or connected loops, and they are available free from the Mairie and tourist offices. Route signs also carry the name of the sentier

Any calcareous areas are always worth checking, e.g. chalk downland and limestone outcrops, although sometimes the greatest variety of species can be found on neutral flower-rich meadows



All species were photographed in the wild, mainly using a variety of compact-zoom (bridge) cameras, although more recently I have used a DSLR + 100mm macro. The shots here and in the Butterflies gallery simply record what I see in the field, and the compact-zooms lend themselves well to mobility
We netted one species locally in our first year here, Berger’s Clouded Yellow. We use a butterfly net as a last resort, and individuals are returned to the wild within a few minutes. Personally I find photography a far more effective and enjoyable aid to butterfly identification

Main sources of reference;

Butterflies of Europe. Tristan Lafranchis, published by Diatheo, France, 2004. Absolutely indispensable, and the main source of reference

Field Guide to Butterflies of Britain and Europe. Tolman/Lewington, published by Collins, London, 1997. Also essential, not as user-friendly as Lafanchis but the two guides together can work well

The Mitchell Beazley pocket guide to Butterflies. Paul Whalley, published by Mitchell Beazley, London, 1981. Cracking little guide that still punches above it’s weight
The order of butterfly species follows this guide

Butterflies of France www.butterfliesoffrance.com Roger Gibbons' excellent photographic identification website

Indre Nature www.indrenature.net
Butterfly list for the departement Indre (covering the Brenne)

Butterflies of the Brenne/département l'Indre Papillons de l'Indre

Vienne Nature www.vienne-nature.asso.fr
Butterfly list for the departement Vienne

Thanks to Samuel Ducept (Vienne) for help with identification and correcting some of my original errors. www.6pattes.fr

List of butterfly species observed in the southern Vienne/Brenne since our arrival in January 2006. The abundance guide may help if you live or are staying in the general area. It is based only on my observations since January 2006, and may or may not reflect the true status within the area

1 = Very common
2 = Fairly common
3 = Scarce
4 = Rare or localised

Reverdin's Blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) M
Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)

(?)Large Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - Hespérie des hélianthèmes ------4
Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - Hesperie de la mauve ------3
Oberthur's (Grizzled) Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - Hesperie des potentilles ------3
Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius) - Hesperie des Sanguisorbes ------4
Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - Grisette ------3
Large Chequered Skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - Miroir ------3
Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) - Point de Hongrie ------1
Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - Hesperie du brome ------4
Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon) - Hesperie du chiendent ------3
Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineolus) - Hesperie du dactyle ------2
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - Hesperie de la houque ------2
Large Skipper (Ochlodes venatus) - Sylvaine ------1

Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - Machaon ------1
Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - Flambé ------1

Large White (Pieris brassicae) - Pieride du chou ------1
Small White (Pieris rapae) - Pieride de la rave ------1
Green-veined White (Pieris napi) - Pieride du navet ------1
Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi) - Gazé ------2
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - Aurore ------1
Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - Fluoré ------2
Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea) - Souci ------1
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - Citron ------1
Wood White (Leptidea sinapis) - Pieride de la moutarde ------1

Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) - Grand Mars changeant ------4
Lesser Purple Emperor (Apatura ilia) - Petit Mars changeant ------4

Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta) - Sylvain azuré ------1
White Admiral (Limenitis camilla) - Petit Sylvain ------2
Map Butterfly (Araschnia levana) - Carte geographique ------2

Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - Morio ------2

Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - Grande Tortue ------2
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - Petite Tortue ------4

Comma (Polygonia c-album) - Robert le diable ------1

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) - Belle Dame ------1
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - Vulcain ------1
Peacock (Inachis io) - Paon du jour ------1

Large Chequered Skipper (Heteropterus morpheus)
Wood White (Leptidea sinapis) F
Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) M
Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiopa)

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - Tabac d'Espagne ------2
Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - Grand Nacré ------4
Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - Petit Nacré ------3
Marbled Fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - Nacré de la ronce ------1
Weaver's Fritillary (Clossinia dia) - Petite Violette ------2
Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - Melitee des centaurees------2
Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - Melitee du plantain ------2
Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - Melitee orangée ------3
Heath Fritillary (Mellicta athalia) - Melitee du melampyre ------1
Meadow Fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides) - Melitee des scabieuses ------3
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - Damier de la succise ------3

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) - Demi-deuil ------1

Woodland Grayling (Hipparchia fagi) - Sylvandre ------4
Dryad (Minois dryas) - Grand nègre des bois ------4
Great Banded Grayling (Brintesia circe) - Silène ------2
False Grayling (Arethusana arethusa) - Petit agreste ------4

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) - Myrtil -----1
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - Amaryllis ------1
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - Tristan ------2

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - Fadet commun ------1
Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania) - Céphale ------3

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) - Tircis ------1
Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) - Mégère ------2
Woodland Brown (Lopinga achine) - Bacchante -----4

Purple Hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus) - Thecla du chene ------2
Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - Thecla du bouleau ------3
Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - Thecla de l'yeuse ------2
Black Hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - Thecla du prunier ------4
Sloe Hairstreak (Satyrium acaciae) - Thécla de l'Amarel ------4
White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - Thecla de l'orme ------4
Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - Thecla de la ronce ------3

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - Cuivré commun ------1
Large Copper (Lycaena dispar) - Cuivré des marais -----4
Sooty Copper (Lycaena tityrus) - Cuivré fuligineux ------1

Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma) M
Dryad (Minois dryas) M
Black Hairstreak (Satyrium pruni)

Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) - Azuré porte-queue ------4
Short-tailed Blue (Everes argiades) - Azuré du trefle ------3
Provencal Short-tailed Blue (Everes alcetas) - Azuré de la faucille ------3
Little Blue (Cupido minimus) - Argus frêle ------4
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) - Azuré des nerpruns ------1
Large Blue (Maculinea arion) - Azuré du serpolet ------4
Reverdin's Blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - Azuré des coronilles -----4
Brown Argus (Aricia agestis) - Collier de corail ------1
Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - Demi-Argus ------3
Chalk-hill Blue (Lysandra coridon) - Argus a bleu nacré ------2
Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus) - Bel Argus ------1
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) - Argus bleu ------1

(80 species)



Moths listed here are largely those I have found during the day, rather than using a moth trap

Main sources of reference;

Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. Martin Townsend/Paul Waring/Richard Lewington, published by British Wildife Publishing Ltd, 2007

Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe. Michael Chinery, published by Collins, London, 1986
The order of moth species follows this guide

Common Swift (Korscheltellus lupulina)
Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina)
Common Forester (Adscita statices)
6-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae)
5-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii)
Burnet sp. (Zygaenidae fausta)
Burnet sp. (Zygaenidae osterodensis)

Hornet Clearwing (Sesia apiformis)
Fiery Clearwing (Bembecia chrysidiformis)

Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus)
Fox Moth (Macrothylacia rubi)
Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia)
Magpie Moth (Abraxas grossulariata)

Latticed Heath (Semiothisa clathrata)
Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)
Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia)

Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria)
Pale Oak Beauty(Hypomecis punctinalis)
Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria)

Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae)
Fiery Clearwing (Bembecia chrysidiformis)
Hornet Clearwing (Sesia apiformis)
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (Hemaris fuciformis)

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (Hemaris tityus)
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth (Hemaris fuciformis)
Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum)
Willowherb Hawkmoth (Proserpinus proserpina)

Moth sp. (Drymonia velitaris)
Cream-spot Tiger (Arctia villica)
Clouded Buff (Diasrisia sannio)
White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda)
Jersey Tiger (Euplagia quadripunctaria)

Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae)
Great Dart (Agrotis crassa)
Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum)
Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis)
Silver Y (Autographa gamma)
Red Underwing (Catocala nupta)
Mother Shipton (Callistege mi)
Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica)

Longhorn Moth (Nemophora degeerella)
Brown China Mark (Elophila nymphaeata)
Moth sp. (Pyrausta sp)
Narrow Rose-banded Wave (Rhodostrophia calabra)
White Plume Moth (Pterophorus pentadactyla)