Muschampia proto (Ochsenheimer, 1808)


Muschampia proto: Upper side [S] Muschampia proto: Male [S] Muschampia proto: Adult (southern Cevennes, July 2012) [N] Muschampia proto: Adult (southern Cevennes, July 2012) [N] Muschampia proto: Lower side [S] Muschampia proto: Mating (Andalusia, late June 2008) [N] Muschampia proto: Ovum at the base of Phlomis lychnidis (Andalusia 2008) [M] Muschampia proto: L1 larva (Provence, Rians, April 2010) [M] Muschampia proto: L2 larva (Provence, Rians, April 2010) [S] Muschampia proto: Half-grown larva (Provence, Rians, May 2013) [M] Muschampia proto: Half-grown larva (Provence, Rians, May 2013) [M] Muschampia proto: Half-grown larva, they are getting light-coloured onlyin last instar (Provence) [M] Muschampia proto: Half-grown larva (Provence, Rians, May 2013) [M] Muschampia proto: Larva (Provence, Rians. late May 2013) [M] Muschampia proto: Larva (Provence, Rians. late May 2013) [M] Muschampia proto: Larva (Provence) [M] Muschampia proto: Larva in beginning dormancy (Andalusia, late June 2008) [M] Muschampia proto: Larva in summer dormancy [S] Muschampia proto: Larval shelter (Provence, Rians, late May 2013) [N] Muschampia proto: Larval shelter (Provence, Rians, late May 2013) [N] Muschampia proto: Larval shelter (Provence, Rians, late May 2013) [N] Muschampia proto: Larval shelter [N] Muschampia proto: Pupa, dorsal [S] Muschampia proto: Pupa, ventral [S] Muschampia proto: Larval habitat (several larval shelters visible) in Provence (Massif de la Sainte Baume, May 2013) [N] Muschampia proto: Larval habitat in Massif de la Sainte Baume in late May 2013 [N] Muschampia proto: Larval habitat in Massif de la Sainte Baume in late May 2013 [N] Muschampia proto: Habitat: Phlomis herba-venti in the Provence, France (May) [N] Muschampia proto: Habitat: Phlomis herba-venti- on a pasture (Provence) [N] Muschampia proto: Habitat in the Massif de la Sainte Baume (Provence) [N] Muschampia proto: Habitat in Andalusia with much Phlomis herba-venti (Ende Juni 2008) [N]

Host plants:
Mostly Phlomis herba-venti, but also other Phlomis species such as Phlomis lychnidis.

Habitat:
Muschampia proto occurs in hot, dry habitats such as rocky slopes, steppes, pastures, open areas in white oak bush or in the Maquis, garigues etc. The habitats are most often grazed.
The quite high growing host plants usually occur locally and in parties. In Provence, I found adults in the Crau, the Alpilles, the Luberon and the Massif la Sainte Baume, always xerotherm, partly heavily grazed sites up to a maximum of about 1000m above sea level.

Life cycle:
The eggs are attached to the base of the food plant or stones, etc. The caterpillar overwinters in the egg (Nel 1985). I observed half to fully-grown larvae in shelters of webbed leaves on the tips of the shoots of Phlomis herba-venti in the French Provence between mid and late May 2007. The flight time is much elongated. Most individuals fly late and prior to mid-July apparently only a few adults are on the wing. In the Crau, I met newly hatched butterflies in late July/early Augusta at a few meters above sea level. From then on and in the whole month of August is the main flight period of this species.

The late flight time is achieved as in Pyrgus cirsii by a dormancy of the mature caterpillar. Around the beginning of June, it spins the later pupal cocoon (while Pyrgus cirsii obviously creates a new housing at the end of dormancy) between leaves of the host plant, usually a few decimeters above the ground (heat escape). Here it usually rests for one to two months (breeding observation), in order to pupate in July or even early August. The major emergence occurred in the breeding to the brink of July/August and correlates well with the field results.
The long and varying duration of the prepupal dormancy is the main reason for the long total flying time in this species. In the end of June 2008 I was able to verify this in Andalusia in the field (Sierra de Cazorla, Sierra de Huetor). I observed only a few adults, copulas and ovipositions (Phlomis herba-venti, Phlomis lychnidis). But I found a greater number of mature larvae in dormancy on Phlomis herba-venti. Some collected individuals resulted in butterflies not before mid to late August!
The males often patrol persistent along special markings in the terrain such as a path along a canal in the Crau.

Endangerment factors:
Muschampia proto is often spread only very locally (although most numerous at suitable sites) and threatened by the accidental destruction of narrow larval habitats. The main causes are overbuilding and intensification of use (irrigation, fertilization, conversion into fields, abandonment of grazing and following succession).

Remarks:
Muschampia proto is found in Northwest Africa and in Europe only in the Iberian Peninsula, along the Mediterranean coast of France (to the north into the southern Massif Central), very local in Southern Italy, as well as Albania, Greece and Asia Minor.



Muschampia tessellum