The larva feeds on grasses such as Brachypodium pinnatum, Bromus erectus, Arrhenaterum elatius and others.
Melanargia galathea settles in meadows that are uncut at flight time or are once mown very early in may and then again not before late August. Moreover, it occurs in limestone grasslands, drier fens, rocky slopes, large clearcuttings and in the Mediterranean Garigue.
The adults fly in a single generation from mainly late June to late August. Hibernated larvae are often found close to the ground from April to early June, when you use your hands to curve the grass bases.
The threat situation is heterogeneous, depending on the region. Overall, Melanargia galathea is still not severly threatened because of its low requirements (needs only uncut meadows). It is still quite common on limestone grasslands e.g. of the Swabian Alb. But Melanargia galathea is in strong decline in regions where there only occur intensive grasslands nowadays. Here sometimes road side verges can act as substitutes if they are not planted with trees and bushes.
The main reasons are the disappearance of extensive meadows, the unfortunate planting of all roadsides, highway underpasses, etc. with woods, the afforestation of all clearings, as well as the constant mowing of embankments. These should be mowed only once from the end of August.
Melanargia galathea is also still common in the south. In the region of Mount Olympus in Greece ist is one of the most common butterflies in July between 300 and 2000m above sea level.
The total distribution extends from North Africa across Central and Southern Europe (missing in southern and central Iberian Peninsula and in Scandnavia) to the Caucasus region.