Tuesday 10th December 2013

Mallow Skippers

The Mallow Skipper, an unobtrusive butterfly that is often overlooked

In my last post, long ago, I mentioned that I would be brightening up the winter months with an assessment of those butterfly species which I did not manage to locate in 2013, but which I would normally have been able to find.

The first of these, chronologically speaking in terms of when I should have seen it in the year, is a species which could not really be expected to brighten up the winter months, as it is a rather dull, but nonetheless charming species, the Mallow Skipper, Carcharodus alceae.

I usually expect to see a few Mallow Skippers each year, either in northern France or in southern Belgium, yet somehow this year I missed them. This was in part due to the cold spring, which held everything back, and the few sunny days did not fall on weekends when I was able to visit the haunts of this unobtrusive butterfly during its spring generation.

During the summer I was away in Scotland, where Mallow Skippers do not occur, and despite various visits to suitable areas in September and October, I was unable to locate any individuals of this species, which never occurs in large numbers.

I did find several Mallow plants, Malva sp., but there appeared to be no adult butterflies nor eggs, which are relatively conspicuous and laid on the upper surface of the leaves.

Mallow, the larval foodplant of the Mallow Skipper

A short video clip of Mallow Skippers which I filmed in Belgium in 2007 appears below:

Had I seen Mallow Skipper this year, and the last absentee I described, the Large Tortoiseshell, Nymphalis polychloros, my total for 2013 would have been: 79 species!

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