Melitaea aurelia Nickerl, 1850


Melitaea aurelia: Male (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Male (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Male (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Male (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Male [N] Melitaea aurelia: Male (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [M] Melitaea aurelia: Male (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Male (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Lower side (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Female (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Female (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Female (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Female (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Female (palps) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Courtship (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Upper side [N] Melitaea aurelia: Lower side [N] Melitaea aurelia: Ovae [S] Melitaea aurelia: Ovae (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [S] Melitaea aurelia: Nest of larvae at Plantago media [N] Melitaea aurelia: Half-grown larva (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [M] Melitaea aurelia: Larva (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Larva (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Larva (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Larva on Klappertopf (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Larva [N] Melitaea aurelia: Larva (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Larva (Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N] Melitaea aurelia: Pupa [S] Melitaea aurelia: Pupa dorsal [S] Melitaea aurelia: Male pupa [S] Melitaea aurelia: Pupa [S] Melitaea aurelia: Female pupa [S] Melitaea aurelia: Habitat on the Swabian Alb [N] Melitaea aurelia: Habitat at larval time in May (eastern Swabian Alb, Southern Germany) [N]

Host plants:
First of all the caterpillars feed on Plantago species, rarely also Veronica. In June 2010, I found caterpillars on Rhinanthus alectorolophus (eastern Swabian Alb). In a breeding attempt the caterpillars also accepted Valeriana, but this is probably not used in the field.

Habitat:
Melitaea aurelia occurs in nutrient-poor grasslands of the lower mountains as the Swabian Alb. There, the caterpillars are observed particularly at moderately meagre, poorly grazed places where Plantago media forms large rosettes on the moss layer. The caterpillar webs are often commonly observed at such locations in July/August.

Much more rarely, Melitaea aurelia also occurs in drier calcareous fens.

Life cycle:
The caterpillar overwinters as L3 and is mature in May or in cool years in June. The moths fly quite early from late May or early June to late July. The eggs are deposited in larger clutches at the leaves of the host plant.

Endangerment: endangered

Endangerment factors:
Melitaea aurelia and its habitats have already been pushed back severly in the last decades due to agriculture (intensification), forestry (afforestation of economical worthless grasslands), housing development and infrastructure.

Melitaea aurelia can not tolerate excessive felting and shrub encroachment of grasslands, but also not too intense grazing.

Remarks:
The caterpillars and especially the chrysalises are quite well distinguished from the related species and, with some experience, also the butterfly.

The overall distribution ranges from central and Eastern Europe across Asia to the Tien Shan. The western border is in eastern France.



Melitaea arduinna | Melitaea asteria | Melitaea athalia | Melitaea britomartis | Melitaea cinxia | Melitaea deione | Melitaea diamina | Melitaea didyma | Melitaea parthenoides | Melitaea phoebe | Melitaea trivia | Melitaea varia