Jump to content

Dordogne butterflies

This web page is to illustrate some of the range of butterflies we see on our holidays in the Dordogne in May, based at Castang. Which is the odd one out above of these four across the top? See bottom of page for answer.

Above: male Adonis blues taking minerals, with two knapweed fritillaries. Adonis blue is one of many species that is tricky to get close to.


Right: sooty copper. The male lives up to its name, but the upperside of this female is similar to a small copper.

sooty copper

It isn't all of them by a long way (to see full lists, look in our holiday reports), and we don't see all species every year on our holiday, usually around the second week of May. Some butterflies have quite short period on the wing and we may see a lot of one butterfly during one holiday and none in another, linked to the weather that year.

scarce swallowtail

Scarce swallowtail. An distinctive species, with its zebra-like stripes, and seen every year. Like a lot of wildlife, the name comes from a UK perspective. Flies with wings in a V-shape, like a marsh harrier!

black-veined white

Black-veined white, here on an ox-eye daisy in Castang's meadow, with a fabulous pattern recalling a leaded window. Extinct in the UK for reasons that remain unclear.

Fritillaries can be confusing. These the species we encounter most.


Meadow fritillary, a fairly uniform looking species, and often the commonest 'frit'.


Click on the picture for a bigger picture of this butterfly.

meadow fritillary
Glanville fritillary


Glanville fritillary

Look for the row of spots in the hind wing's last-but-one row of cells. This one is perched on the rim of bug box. More on Glanville fritillaries here.

Knapweed fritillary

With caterpillar, below. The imago* shows contrasting colours ...

knapweed fritillary caterpillar

knapweed fritillary
marsh fritillary

... though the marsh fritillary, which we usually find by Roque St Christophe, is brighter and more contrasting still.

* imago - the fully developed adult stage of an insect.

violet fritillary

Violet or weaver's fritillary: the former name is from the larval food plant. A faded individual.

violet fritillary

Skippers can look like moths, especially when they land with wings folded. Note the knobbed antennae, like all butterflies ... and also burnet moths, see right ...

grizzled skipperOberthur's grizled skipperOberthur's grizzled skipper

Above left: grizzled skipper. Above, middle and right: more common in our area is Oberthur's grizzled skipper, less grizzled looking, and with a reddish-brown underside hindwing.

burnet companion mothgiant peacock mothcream-spot tiger moth

Moths add further interest. Left: burnet companion moth, often in the same areas as burnet moths. Middle: giant peacock moth (at rest, rather than a day-flying species). Right: cream-spot tiger moth, the odd one out - a moth and the rest are butterflies.

Chris Durdin, January 2012

Dordogne orchids . . . . . . Dordogne bugs . . . . . . . . . Back to nature notes

map butterfly

Map on cow parsley, May 2012.

More in this family of web pages

Honeyguide's Dordogne holiday

Orchids in the Dordogne

Dordogne bugs

large copper

More from the blues family.
Large copper: extinct in the UK.

short-tailed blue

Short-tailed blue: note the tiny tails.

scarce swallowtail underside

Scarce swallowtail, underside, freshly emerged, the same butterfly as the big picture. Here it has a creamy-yellow tint.

scarce swallowtail

This older, faded scarce swallowtail is more black-and-white and has already lost a tail.

wood white

Wood white can be picked out by its characteristic weak, fluttery flight and rounded wings. Three wood white species are now recognised in the British Isles, separated on range or by dissection. Best guess is this is just wood white Leptidea sinapis.


Orange-tips, here mating: the orange tips on the male's upper wing shines through.

spotted fritillary

Spotted fritillary - common in the area, though we often miss them emerging on our holiday. Upperside photo here.

Pyramidal orchid with knapweed fritillary

Pyramidal orchid with knapweed fritillary and quaking grass.

painted lady

Painted lady on horse chestnut at Castang, May 2009, just before they invaded Britain (more on that here).

red-underwing skipper

Right: red-underwing skipper. It's standing on my telescope.

6-spot burnet moth

A 6-spot burnet moth: confusingly, like butterflies, they have knobs on antennae.

Photos on this web page by Chris Durdin, all photographed in the Dordogne on Honeyguide holidays, except Oberthur's grizzled skipper underside, which was in the French Pyrenees. More photos for this page from Honeyguiders would be very welcome.

Facebook Honeyguide
... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

Helping you enjoy wildlife – Helping you protect wildlife