Euphydryas aurinia (Rottemburg, 1775)


Euphydryas aurinia: Female (Bulgaria, Rila mountains, 1900m asl, late July 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Male (Rila mountains, 1900m asl, late July 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Adult (Abruzzes, L Euphydryas aurinia: Male (Provence, Massif de la Sainte Baume, late May 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Female (Provence, Massif de la Sainte Baume, late May 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Mating (Provence, Massif de la Sainte Baume, late May 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Mating (Massif de la Sainte Baume, late May 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Female (e.l. Provence, France) [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Lower side (e.l. Provence, France) [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Adult (Abruzzes, L Euphydryas aurinia: Adult (Abruzzes, L Euphydryas aurinia: Upper side [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Mating (Kanisfluh, W-Austrian Alps, July 2008) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Lower side [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Courtship (W-Austrian Alps, Rätikon, 1800m asl, July 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Adult (Lüner See, W-Austria, 2100m above sea level, early July 2011) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Adult (Allgäu Alps, 1500m above sea level) Euphydryas aurinia: Form debilis (Val Rosegg, Engadine) [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Adult (Allgäu Alps, 1500m above sea level) Euphydryas aurinia: Upper side debilis (alpine form) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Lower side form debilis (e.l. Val Rosegg) [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Lower side debilis (alpine form) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Adult, Northern Greece, NE Kastoria, 1800m above sea level, July 2010 [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Adult (NE of Kastoria, Greece, 1800m above sea level, July 2010) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Female (N-Greece, Vitsi N Kastoria, late June 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Ovae (of ssp. debilis at Gentiana acaulis at the Lukmanier-Pass, Switzerland) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Young larvae [M] Euphydryas aurinia: Young nest of larvae at Gentiana punctata in the Engadine in 2400m above sea level (September) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Nest of young larvae at Lonicera (east Spain, Castellòn, July 2013) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Larva (S-Bavaria, SW lake Ammersee) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Light larva, Bregenzer Wald, Kanisfluh, W-Austria,1500m above sea level, 2010 [M] Euphydryas aurinia: Larva (Bregenzer Wald, 1500m above sea level) [M] Euphydryas aurinia: Larva (Bregenzer Wald, 1500m above sea level) [M] Euphydryas aurinia: Larva (Provence, France, April 2010) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Larva (Provence, France, April 2010) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Larva (debilis-height form) [M] Euphydryas aurinia: Larvae at Gentiana shortly after the snow has melted (N-Ticino, Switzerland) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Larva in the Val Rosegg in 2000m above sea level at Lonicera coerulea [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Pupa on Colchicum leaf [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Pupa (debilis, e.l. Switzerland, Val Rosegg, larva in May 2008) [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Pupa [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Pupa [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Pupa [S] Euphydryas aurinia: Habitat of the high altitude form debilis (Montafon, 1700-2000m above sea level) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Habitat of the low land form in a fen (S-Bavaria) [N] Euphydryas aurinia: Habitat in the Bulgarian Rila mountains in late July 2013 [N]

Host plants:
In the wetland area, the caterpillars live mostly on Succisa pratensis, in the alpine region on Gentiana punctata, Gentiana acaulis and other gentians and Scabiosa lucida. In the Jura, the species lives in its few occurrences mostly on Scabiosa columbaria. Further the larvae occasionally feed on Knautia arvensis where I watched defoliation on a seasonally wet grassland in the Ammersee area (southern Bavaria) in the spring, and Knautia dipsacifolia (seen in forest gap systems of the Allgäu region around 1500m above sea level). Rarely, also other related genera are used as Menyanthes or in parts of the range (Spain) Lonicera (Caprifoliaceae), which is summarized with the Dipsacaceae (Knautia, Succisa, Scabiosa) to the order Dipsacales. Interestingly, I found in May 2008 in the Engadine (Val Rosegg) at 2000m above sea level over 10 caterpillars that fed on the lower stems of Lonicera coerulea! Gentiana could not be observed within a distance of several meters.

Habitat:
Euphydryas aurinia occurs in many types of open landscape habitats. These all have in common that they are managed only very extensively and that they are not too rich in nutrients. Probably Euphydryas aurinia colonized originally many extensive grasslands in Central Europe from the lowlands upt to high elevations in the Alps. There fly smaller, darker and less scaly specimens that were formerly separated as a separate species Euphydryas debilis.
Today Euphydryas aurinia is pushed back to marginal sites like fens on the one hand and dry grasslands on the other due to agricultural intensifications especially in the lowlands. Euphydryas aurinia requires only moderate high growing, not felted areas for development and avoids on the other hand also very low growing and intensively grazed areas especially in the lower elevations.

Life cycle:
The caterpillar overwinters often as L4, rarely also as L3 (especially in the mountains). A repetitive, second overwintering of the caterpillars occurs partially in the plains and more often in the mountains. I found caterpillars and later pupae in the plains between March and May, in the mountains as late as early July. The pupae were often attached to the leaf upper side of Colchicum autumnale in a habitat. The adults fly from May to early July, in the mountains until August. Eggs are laid in clusters on the underside of leaves and was observed the author on Scabiosa lucida (Allgäu Alps), Succisa pratensis (Allgäu) and Gentiana acaulis (Swiss Alps). The young caterpillars and its webs are conspicuous in August/September on the plants.

Endangerment: strongly endangered

Endangerment factors:
Euphydryas aurinia is in very stron decline especially in lower and medium high elevations due to habitat loss because of intensification, afforestation, improper maintenance and isolation. This species tolerates neither a too intensific grazing nor abandonment of extensive maintenance (late mowing once in autumn) for longer periods. The decisive factor is the correlation with the natural growth vigor of the habitat, i.e. weakly growing sites should not be mowed annually, but strong growing and more nutrient-rich sites should. Changing fallow areas should be included in every habitat. Best would be a mowing after mid-September on fen meadows (Molinietum etc.). On vigorous sites a complete mowing even with rotary mowers can be tolerated under certain circumstances, at least in vital populations (A. Nunner personal information).

In the Alpine region, Euphydryas aurinia is currently common and widespread in almost any mountain range (Southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

Remarks:
FFH species (Annex II).

The distribution extends from North Africa across Europe and temperate Asia to Korea.



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