Pyrgus malvoides (Elwes & Edwards, 1897)

Pyrgus malvoides: Adult (Abruzzes, L'Aquila, May 2013) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Adult (Abruzzes, L'Aquila, May 2013) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Adult (Abruzzes, L'Aquila, May 2013) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Upper side (e.l. Simplon-Pass) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Adult [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Wing upper side [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Female (Täschalpe, Valais, early June 2010) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Adult (W-Austrian Alps, Rätikon, July 2013) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Female (Täschalpe, Valais, early June 2010) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Lower side (e.l. SE-Valais) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Lower side (e.l. SE-Valais) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Oviposition at Potentilla pusilla (Täschalpe, early June 2010) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Ovum [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Ovum (detail) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Larva, half-grown [M] Pyrgus malvoides: Larva, dark [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Dark larva [M] Pyrgus malvoides: Larva in last instar [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Larva in last instar [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Larva in last instar [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Larva (Täschalpe, Valais, Switzerland) [M] Pyrgus malvoides: Larva, light form (Valais, Switzerland) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Upper row: 3x P. malvae (brown), below malvoides (black) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Pupa, very light form [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Pupa (e.l. Simplon, brownish suffusion) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Pupa lateral (Simplon) [S] Pyrgus malvoides: Habitat in 2300m above sea level on the Valaisian Täschalpe [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Habitat in Provence (May 2013) [N] Pyrgus malvoides: Habitat on a high plateau with Potentilla erecta in about 1500m asl in the Abruzzes (May 2013) [N]

Host plants:
As with Pyrgus malvae: herbaceous Rosaceae, particularly Potentilla sp. as Potentilla verna, P. grandiflora, P. recta, P. erecta, P. hirta and P. pusilla. In addition, also on Rubus idaeus (Valais).

Multiform. Pyrgus malvoides occurs from the Mediterranean scrubland via calcareous grasslands, woodland clearings and ruderal terrain up to high alpine pastures (in the Valais to over 2500m above sea level) and fens. In the higher elevations Pyrgus malvoides is usually more common than P. malvae at comparable sites in its area of distribution.

Life cycle:
Development is similar to Pyrgus malvae. In the southern part of its range (western Mediterranean) Pyrgus malvoides usually has a partial second generation in July/August. Although this occurs in places somewhat more numerous than in Pyrgus malvae, the second generation is probably never complete. In the north (Switzerland, western Austria), however, this occurs only very exceptional (similar to P. malvae).
The pupae are more pruinose than those of Pyrgus malvae and are otherwise rather blackish (at least significantly darker than the more brown colored pupa of Pyrgus malvae). The pupa hibernates.

Endangerment factors:
Pyrgus malvoides is not particularly vulnerable.

The distribution pattern is Southwestern European (Iberian Peninsula, Southern France, Italy). The north-eastern boundary runs right through Switzerland to the northeast across Vorarlberg and Tyrol (both Austria) to the German border (Alps of Upper Bavaria), and from there south to Istria. In Germany it was found so far only in the Alps southwest of Munich.

This taxon may be classified with some justification both as a distinct species and a subspecies of Pyrgus malvae. In my opinion, reproductive isolation is not given in the contact zones, so I tend more to the subspecies theory.

But the atomizing of species based on genital section and small differences in the DNA is now so fashionable (see orchids) and leads, even in periods of extinction to longer species lists! In my opinion, subspecies status would be enough in many cases as long as reproductive isolation (infertile or no offspring) is not clearly proven. At the contact zones, different species should be able to cohabite at least in some locations. If there is only a hybridization belt (moreover if with fertile offspring) this should be a hint for subspecies status. But I admit that all these considerations depend on the point of view and are debatable.

Hints on determination:
The mature larvae are often not so green (more beige) in colour as it is the case with Pyrgus malvae. In both taxa the caterpillars show no sclerotized black collar shield which contrasts to all other European species. The pupae are more heavily pruinose and more blackish in ground colour than those of P. malvae (more brownish). The adults can only be separated by genital section.

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