ALGARVE BIRDWATCHING
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Algarve Butterflies
   
Southern Scarce Swallowtail on Lavender
The Algarve is a privileged region for butterflies. Over half of the 140 or so species occurring in Portugal have been recorded here and the area is a stronghold for a number of rare and endangered species.

To those interested in seeing butterflies, I would urge that nowadays there is no excuse for collecting specimens in order to identify them. Close focussing binoculars and/or a digital camera with a macro function (equipment that most birdwatchers already possess), will facilitate identification perfectly and provide much more enjoyment than pinning a dead, rare butterfly onto a display board. With the present extensive knowledge of European diurnal Lepidoptera only rarely is collecting justified, even for scientific purposes during surveys etc.

The commented list below includes all of the species known to have occurred in the Algarve and draws off the most authoritative and recent data sources, as well as my own fieldwork. Knowledge of the status of butterflies in this region is growing but much is still needed to be known about many species: Any interesting records, particularly of the more scarce butterflies are welcomed and will be forwarded to the relevant authorities, please send to simonwates@sapo.pt.

In order to assist those who are not familiar with the butterflies of the Algarve, reference to their status and locally recorded life-cycle plants (food plants) are included as well as their usual flight period here. (All photographs by Simon Wates).

Nomenclature & order follows Lewington, R. & Tolman, T., 1997
     
Family: Papilionidae    
Swallowtails mating
1. Swallowtail Papilio machaon

Status: Common throughout
Flight period: February - December
Food plants: Fennel Foeniculum vulgare, occasionally other umbellifers and the rue, Ruta chalepensis (confined to limestone areas)
     
   
Southern Scarce Swallowtail
2. Southern Scarce Swallowtail Iphiclides podalirius feisthamelii
(Considered by some authorities as a full species: Iphiclides feisthamelii)

Status: Fairly common throughout, except coastal areas where it is often rare
Flight period: February - December
Food plants: Almond Prunus dulcis and other Prunus spp., Pears Pyrus spp. and Hawthorn Crateagus monogyna
     
   
Spanish Festoon
3. Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina

Status: Fairly common, especially in the shale hills inland
Flight period: February - July
Food plants: Dutchman’s Pipe Aristolochia spp. (4 species in the Algarve)
     
Family: Pieridae    
Black-veined White
4. Black-veined White Aporia crataegi

Status: Very rare and localised in the Algarve – only recorded from the extreme south-eastern Algarve
Flight period: May - July
Food plants: Prunus spp and Pears Pyrus spp. and Hawthorn Crateagus monogyna

5. Large White Pieris brassicae

Status: Abundant throughout – more scarce in the colder months
Flight period: All year
Food plants: Crucifers of the genus Brassica
     
   
Bath White
6. Small White Artogeia rapae

Status: Abundant throughout
Flight period: February - November
Food plants: Mignonettes Reseda spp and crucifers Brassica spp.

7. Green-veined White Artogeia napi

Status: Only recorded in the Monchique area
Flight period: March - October
Food plants: Diverse crucifers Brassica spp. In our area probably
mainly Watercress Nasturtium officinale

8. Bath White Pontia daplidice

Status: Common throughout
Flight period: February - November
Food plants: Crucifers and mignonettes Reseda spp
     
   
Western Dappled White
9. Western Dappled White Euchloe crameri

Status: Rather uncommon and apparently localised
Flight period: March - July
Food plants: Crucifers, especially Iberis, Sisymbrium, Biscutella spp.
     
   
Green-striped White
10. Portuguese Dappled White Euchloe tagis

Status: An extremely localised and endangered species, unconfirmed as breeding in the region. A few records mainly in the west, especially near Sagres
Flight period: February - April
Food plants: Crucifers of the genus Iberis and Biscutella

11. Green-striped White Euchloe belemia

Status: Common throughout, sometimes abundant although scarce in mid-winter
Flight period: November – July
Food plants: Crucifers, especially Iberis, Sisymbrium spp.
     
   
Clouded Yellow
12. Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines

Status: An isolated and small population exists in Monchique (In Portugal this butterfly occurs frequently North of Lisbon)
Flight period: March - June
Food plants: Cardamines pratensis, Sinapsis spp. and other crucifers

13. Clouded Yellow Colias crocea

Status: Abundant throughout
Flight period: All year
Food plants: Numerous Leguminosae

14. Berger's Clouded Yellow Colias alcafariensis

Status: Extremely rare, only a handful of confirmed records for the Algarve
Flight period: March – August
Food plants: Coronilla spp.
     
   
Female Cleopatra
15. Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni

Status: Fairly common, mainly in the shale hills inland
Flight period: May - October
Food plants: Mediterranean Buckthorn Rhamnus alaternus and Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus

16. Cleopatra Gonepteryx cleopatra

Status: Common throughout, sometimes abundant in the Barrocal
Flight period: January - October
Food plant: Mediterranean Buckthorn Rhamnus alaternus

17. Wood White Leptidea sinapis

Status: Rather uncommon in the shale hills inland
Flight period: March - September
Food plants: Lathyrus e Lotus spp.
     
Family: Lycaenidae    
Spanish Purple Hairstreak
18. Purple Hairstreak Quercusia quercus

Status: Only a small number of records in the Algarve
Flight period: May - September
Food plants: Oaks Quercus spp.

19. Spanish Purple Hairstreak Laeosopis roboris

Status: Colonies very localised, along rivers with Ash trees in the western and eastern Algarve
Flight period: May - July
Food plant: Ash Fraxinus angustifolia
     
   
False Ilex Hairstreak
20. Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicis

Status: Very few records in the Algarve
Flight period: June - August
Food plant: Cork Oak Quercus suber

21. False Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium esculi

Status: Fairly scarce, although common in ideal conditions in the Barrocal
Flight period: April - August
Food plant: Kermes Oak Quercus coccifera
     
   
Blue-spot Hairstreak
22. Blue-spot Hairstreak Satyrium spini

Status: Common, especially in the Barrocal
Flight period: April - August
Food plants: Mediterranean Buckthorn Rhamnus alaternus, Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus and Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
     
   
Green Hairstreak
23. Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi

Status: Fairly common throughout
Flight period: March - June
Food plants: Various Leguminosae

24. Chapman's Green Hairstreak Callophrys avis

Status: Rather scarce, only in areas with abundance of food plant, mainly in the western Algarve
Flight period: March - June
Food plant: Strawberry Tree (Medronho) Arbutus unedo
     
   
Provence Hairstreak depositing eggs on foodplant Iberian Milk Vetch Erophaca baetica
25. Provence Hairstreak Tomares ballus

Status: Considered endangered, this early butterfly is localised in the Algarve and found in well conserved areas of the Barrocal
Flight period: February - April
Food plants: Mainly Iberian Milk Vetch Erophaca baetica but also  Trifolium cherleri, Lotus hispidus and Onobrychis spp.
     
   
Small Copper
26. Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas  

Status: Very common throughout
Flight period: February - November
Food plants: The docks, Rumex acetosa and acetosella

27. Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus

Status: Common throughout, especially when autumn migrants boost the breeding population
Flight period: February - December
Food plants: Numerous Leguminosae
     
   
Lang's Short-tailed Blue
28. Geranium Bronze Cacyreus marshallii

Status: Originating from South Africa, this species has been Introduced accidentally through the importation of garden Geraniums Pelargonium spp. in the gardening trade. It has become very common, especially in gardens.
Flight period: March - November
Food plants: Garden Pelargonium spp. and natural Geranium spp.

29. Lang's Short-tailed Blue Leptotes pirithous

Status: Common throughout, especially in the autumn - possibly due to migrants
Flight period: February - December
Food plants: Numerous Leguminosae
     
   
Lorquin's Blue
30. African Grass Blue Zizeeria knysna

Status: Rare, localised and considered an endangered species. Found principally in the western Algarve – often on salt-laden soils adjacent to salt marshes
Flight period: April - October
Food plants: Strawberry Clover Trifolium fragiferum, Oxalis corniculata, and sometimes Medicago spp. and other Leguminosae

31. Lorquin's Blue Cupido lorquinii

Status: Rare, localised and considered an endangered species. Best areas in the far west on well conserved limestone ie; Barrocal
Flight period: March - June
Food plant: Kidney Vetch Anthyllis vulneraria
     
   
Panoptes Blue
32. Holly Blue Celastina argiolus

Status: Common throughout
Flight period: January - October
Food plants: A great variety of plants from many families

33. Black-eyed Blue Glaucopsyche melanops

Status: Apparently rather scarce throughout
Flight period: March - July
Food plants: Brooms Cytisus, Doryncium and Lotus spp.

34. Panoptes Blue Pseudophilotes panoptes

Status: Iberian endemic species. Very localised and rather rare, confined to limestone areas – mainly the Barrocal
Flight period: April - August
Food plants: Thymes Thymus spp. especially the west Algarve endemic Camphor Thyme Thymus camphoratus
     
   
False Baton Blue on foodplant, Cleonia lusitanica
35. False Baton Blue Pseudophilotes abencerragus

Status: An endangered species with one of its strongholds being the Algarve, where it is rare.
Flight period: April - May
Food plants: Cleonia lusitanica, which is only found in the southern Iberian Peninsula and N. Africa, and sometimes thymes Thymus spp.
     
   
Silver-studded Blue with ants
36. Silver-studded Blue Plebejus argus

Status: Very scarce in the Algarve, apparently confined to the Monchique - Silves area
Flight period: June - August
Food plants: Various Leguminosae
     
   
Spanish Brown Argus
37. Spanish Brown Argus Aricia cramera
(Some authorities consider this as Aricia agestis cramera, a mere subsp. of Brown Argus)

Status: Rather common throughout
Flight period: March - November
Food plants: Rock-roses Helianthemum, Geranium spp. and Storksbills Erodium
     
   
Adonis Blue
38. Chapman's Blue Agrodiaetus thersites

Status: Very rare and threatened species. Only a handful of confirmed records in the Algarve where identification difficulties with Common Blue have clouded its true status
Flight period: March - August
Food plants: Onobrychis spp.

39. Adonis Blue Lysandra bellargus

Status: Quite scarce, mainly in the shale hills
Flight period: April - October
Food plants: Clovers Trifolium spp. and other Leguminosae
     
   
Common Blues mating
40. Common Blue Polyommatus icarus

Status: Abundant throughout
Flight period: February - October
Food plants: Various Leguminosae
     
Family: Danaidae    
Monarch
41. Monarch Danaus plexippus

Status: After a record autumn arrival in October 1997 (probably from N. America) the first breeding record in Portugal was at Paul de Lagos in 1998. Since then it has colonised other areas with the food plant and had become quite common in the western Algarve by 2001. From 2004 the Monarch seems to have declined a little.
Flight period: All year, with reproduction noted in nearly all months
Food plant: The exotic introduced Bristly-fruited Silkweed Gomphocarpus fruticosus

42. Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus

Status: Extremely rare in Europe with a few records from the Algarve. Breeding proved in 2001 at Monarch colony at Paul de Lagos where a small number of inds. were present (not present in the next two years)
Flight period: May - December
Food plant: Bristly-fruited Silkweed Gomphocarpus fruticosus
     
Family: Nymphalidae    
Two-tailed Pasha seen here on a vehicle; this species is attracted to the odour of diesel etc
43. Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius

Status: Quite common and easily seen “hill-topping” in the inland shale hills. Frequently flies far from breeding areas
Flight period: March - October
Food plant: Strawberry Tree (Medronho) Arbutus unedo
     
   
Large Tortoiseshell
44. Large Tortoiseshell Nymphalis polychlorus

Status: Rather uncommon and largely confined to watercourses in Cork Oak valley woodlands in the western Algarve. Considered a threatened species in Portugal due to loss of habitat
Flight period: March - October
Food plants: Willows Salix spp., White Poplar Populus alba and cultivated Prunus spp.

45. Peacock Butterfly Inachis io

Status: Only one record from the eastern Algarve at Santa Catarina in 1984
Flight period: All year
Food plants: Nettles Urtica spp. and Parietaria  spp.
     
   
Painted Lady
46. Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Status: Very common throughout
Flight period: All year
Food plants: Nettles Urtica spp. and Parietaria  spp.

47. Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

Status: Abundant, especially in summer and autumn when local population increased with migrants
Flight period: All year
Food plants: Various thistles, Mallows  Malva spp. and Nettles Urtica spp

48. American Painted Lady Vanessa virginiensis

Status: Very rare – only a small number of records from the western Algarve. A migrant species of Nearctic origin that has formed a few stable populations in western Portugal.
Flight period: March - December
Food plants: Thistles of the genus Carduus
     
   
Cardinal
49. Cardinal Argynnis pandora

Status: Rare in the Algarve, probably due to the scarcity of Violet species, most often recorded in the Monchique area
Flight period: May - October
Food plants: Violets Viola spp
     
   
Queen of Spain Fritillary
50. Queen of Spain Fritillary Issoria lathonia

Status: A small number of records from the Algarve, mainly in the southwest
Flight period: March - December
Food plants: Violets Viola spp.

51. Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe

Status: Very scarce in the extreme eastern Algarve near Spain and only one record in the West of 2 inds in the Serra de Silves by food plants (May 2005)
Flight period: April - July
Food plants: Knapweeds Centaurea spp.
     
   
Provençal Fritillary
52. Aetherie Fritillary Melitaea aetherie

Status: Highly endangered. Scarce and localised. The tiny populations in the coastal Algarve are disappearing due to tourism infrastructures. Like nearly all the endangered species in the Algarve, not legally protected.
Flight period: April - May
Food plants: Knapweeds Centaurea spp.

53. Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma

Status: Only one or two records from near Lagoa
Flight period: May - September
Food plants: Toadflaxes Linaria spp. and Plantians Plantago spp.

54. Provençal Fritillary Melitaea deione

Status: Very few records from central western and northern Algarve
Flight period: May - September
Food plants: Toadflaxes Linaria spp. and others
     
   
Marsh Fritillary
55. Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia

Status: Fairly common in the Barrocal, often near watercourses. The only legally protected butterfly in the Algarve within the European habitats directives
Flight period: Abril - June
Food plants: The honeysuckle Lonicera implexa, The plantain Plantago lanceolata and Scabiouses Scabiosa spp.

56. Spanish Fritillary Euphydryas desfontainii

Status: Considered endangered in Portugal. Very rare and localised, mainly in the western Algarve
Flight period: April - June
Food plants: The teasels Dipsacus comosus and D. fullonum, Scabiouses Scabiosa spp. and Knapweeds Centaurea spp.
     
Family: Satyridae    
Spanish Marbled White
57. Iberian Marbled White Melanargia lachesis

Status: Rare, a handful of records from the eastern Algarve
Flight period: March - June
Food plants: Many grasses

58. Spanish Marbled White Melanargia ines

Status: Fairly common, sometimes quite numerous in the Barrocal
Flight period: March - June
Food plants: Many grasses
     
   
Tree Grayling
59. Tree Grayling Neohipparchia statilinus

Status: Scarce, mainly in the north-western Algarve
Flight period: April - September
Food plants: Many grasses

60. Striped Grayling Pseudotergumia fidia

Status: Quite common in the inland shale hills in the western Algarve
Flight period: (April) July - October
Food plants: Many grasses
     
   
Meadow Brown
61. Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

Status: Abundant throughout
Flight period: March - October
Food plants: Many grasses

62. Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

Status: Scarce in the inland Algarve
Flight period: May - September
Food plants: Many grasses
     
   
Southern Gatekeeper
63. Southern Gatekeeper Pyronia cecilia

Status: Very common throughout – often abundant in scrublands and woodlands inland
Flight period: May - September
Food plants: Grasses of the genus Brachypodium and Deschampsia caespitosa

64. Spanish Gatekeeper Pyronia bathsheba

Status: Fairly common in the inland shale hills in the western Algarve, more scarce in the East.
Flight period: April - July
Food plants: Grasses of the genus Brachypodium and others

65. Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus

Status: Very common throughout
Flight period: March - October
Food plants: Grasses: Poa annua, Nardus stricta and Cynosurus cristatus
     
   
Speckled Wood
66. Dusky Heath Coenonympha dorus

Status: Only a couple of records from the Algarve
Flight period: June- July
Food plants: Various grasses

67. Speckled Wood Parage aegeria

Status: Abundant throughout
Flight period: All year
Food plants: Many grasses

68. Wall Brown Lasiommata megera

Status: Common throughout
Flight period: All year
Food plants: Many grasses
     
Family: Hesperiidae    
Sage Skipper
69. Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae

Status: Only a few records in the Algarve, probably more frequent than records reflect on high ground
Flight period: April - August
Food plants: Cinquefoils Potentila spp. and mallows Malva spp.

70. Rosy Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus onopordi

Status: Only 2 records in the Algarve, but probably somewhat overlooked
Flight period: April - September
Food plants: Cinquefoils Potentila spp.

71. Red Underwing Skipper Spialia sertorius

Status: Fairly widespread but quite scarce, mainly on shale hills inland
Flight period: April - August
Food plants: The Iberian endemic Sanguisorba hybrida

72. Sage Skipper Muschampia proto

Status: Common in the western Algarve, less frequent in the east
Flight period: April - October
Food plants: Jerusalem Sage Phlomis purpurea
     
   
False Mallow Skipper
73. False Mallow Skipper Carcharodus tripolinus

Status: Mainly a North African species that is restricted to coastal areas in southern Portugal and Spain in Europe. Rather scarce in the Algarve.
Flight period: March – December although usually recorded in late spring
Food plants: Mallows, Malva and Althea spp.

74. Southern Marbled Skipper Carcharodus baeticus

Status: An endangered species in Portugal. Only recorded in the eastern Algarve where it is very rare
Flight period: May - October
Food plant: Marrabuium vulgare

75. Lulworth Skipper Thymelicus acteon

Status: A threatened species. Rather uncommon, more frequent in the western Algarve
Flight period: April - August
Food plants: Grasses of the genus Bromus
     
   
Mediterranean Skipper
76. Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola

Status: Rather uncommon, more frequent in the western Algarve. Status probably clouded due to difficult separation from Small Skipper
Flight period: May - August
Food plants: Many grasses

77. Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris

Status: Common, especially in the western Algarve
Flight period: April - August
Food plants: Grasses from the genus Holcus and Deschampsia

78. Large Skipper Ochlodes venata

Status: Only two records in the Algarve from the county of Portimão (inland)
Flight period: May - August
Food plants: Many grasses

79. Mediterranean Skipper Gegenes nostrodamus

Status: An endangered species. Rare and localised in the Algarve, often in dry river beds.
Flight period: May - October
Food plants: The thistle; Spanish Oyster Plant Scolymus hispanicus, a very common plant in the Algarve


RECOMMENDED FIELD GUIDES

This superb, comprehensive and compact field guide is the most recommended to take to the Algarve and covers the identification of all the species thoroughly (Maps small – caution needed when interpreting status in the Algarve):
Lewington, R. & Tolman, T., 1997. Collins Field Guide Butterflies of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins, London. ISBN 0-00-219992-0

This excellent small format and lightweight guide is sufficient for the identification of practically all the Algarve’s butterflies (No maps – only indication of occurrence in Portugal):
Lewington, R. & Whalley, P., 1996. The Mitchell Beazley Pocket Guide to Butterflies. Mitchell Beazley Publishers, London. ISBN 185732-7721


PRINCIPAL SOURCES FOR THIS WEBPAGE

Garcia-Barros, E., Munguira, M.L., Martin Cano, J., Romo Benito, H., Garcia-Perreira, P. & Maravalhas, E.S., 2004. Atlas de las Mariposas diurnas da la Peninsula Ibérica e Islas Baleares - Atlas of the Butterflies of the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea & Hesperioidea). Sociedade Entomológica Aragonesa. ISBN 84-932807-5-5

Maravalhas, E.S., et al. 2003. As Borboletas de Portugal. Vento Norte, Porto. ISBN 972-96031-9-7

Cardoso, P., Costa, H., Mascarenhas, M. & Wates, S., 2005. Relatório Final, Plano Municipal de Ambiente de Lagos, Componente Ecologia. Camâra Municipal de Lagos

Wates, S., 2003. Estudo de Caracterização do Paul de Lagos. Vol IV. Borboletas. Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves, Lisboa.

     
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