Melitaea phoebe (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)


Melitaea phoebe: Female (Valais, Switzerland, July 2008) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Adult (e.l. Col de Vence 2012) [S] Melitaea phoebe: Adult (e.l. Col de Vence 2012) [S] Melitaea phoebe: Male, Allgaeue Alps (Daumen area, ca. 1800 m above sea level, July 2007), Photo Ulrich Rau. [N] Melitaea phoebe: Male [S] Melitaea phoebe: Female [N] Melitaea phoebe: Adult (Andalusien) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Lower side [S] Melitaea phoebe: Nest of young larvae at Centaurea (Northern Greece) [M] Melitaea phoebe: Young larvae (Valais, Switzerland) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Nest of larvae [N] Melitaea phoebe: Half-grown larva (Valais, Switzerland) Melitaea phoebe: Larva in penultimate instar (Valais, Switzerland) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Larva in penultimate instar (Valais, Switzerland) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Larva [N] Melitaea phoebe: Larva [N] Melitaea phoebe: Larva on Cirsium (Col de Vence, April 2012) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Larva on Cirsium (Col de Vence, April 2012) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Larva (e.l. Col de Vence 2012) [S] Melitaea phoebe: Larva (Andalusia, late June 2008) [M] Melitaea phoebe: Larva (Valais, Switzerland) [M] Melitaea phoebe: Larva (Valais, Switzerland) [M] Melitaea phoebe: Larva (Valais, Switzerland) [M] Melitaea phoebe: Larva (Valais, Switzerland) [M] Melitaea phoebe: Pupa Melitaea phoebe: Pupa [S] Melitaea phoebe: Pupa [S] Melitaea phoebe: Pupa (e.l. Col de Vence 2012) [S] Melitaea phoebe: Habitat at the Col de Vence near Nice (observations of caterpillars in April 2012) [N] Melitaea phoebe: Habitat in the German Alps (Allgäu) in about 1700 to 1900m above sea level, 2012. [N]

Host plants:
The caterpillars feed on Asteraceae. They are often observed on Centaurea species, namely Centaurea scabiosa. In addition, they also feed on thistles (e.g. various Cirsium species such as Cirsium arvense).

Habitat:
Melitaea phoebe needes higher growing, warm and extensive grasslands. It is also typical for steppe-like slopes and dry mountain slopes. In the Provence Melitaea phoebe occurs in stony, bushy grasslands and in the Garigue.
In Germany the butterfly is a rare and occurs for example in the southern Allgäu (SW-Bavarian Alps) or on the Franconian Alb.

Life cycle:
Melitaea phoebe occurs in one or two generations per year. In the German Alps, I found adults in a single generation in late June/early July 2003 at about 1300m above sea level and a male (together with Ulrich Rau) at 1800m in 2007. If a partial second generation occurs, the butterflies are on the wing from late May through June and again in August. In the Southern Alps (Susa) and Provence I watched caterpillars in April and May and partly again in July in calcareous grasslands between 500m and 1500m above sea level.

Endangerment: strongly endangered

Endangerment factors:
North of the Alps, Melitaea phoebe is decreasing rapidly and already disappeared in the Kaiserstuhl region (Upper Rhine Valley). Main reason is as usual habitat loss due to agriculture (vineyards!), overbuilding, succession and afforestation.

South of the Alps, the beautiful butterfly still occurs quite common provided the habitats are still preserved.

Remarks:
The overall distribution ranges from Northwest Africa through Southern and Central Europe until well into Asia (northern China).



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