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Compton Tortoiseshell

Nymphalis vaualbum

  • Name also: False Comma
  • Latin synonym: Nymphalis l-album
  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: True Brushfoots – Nymphalinae
  • Wing span: Large, 58–70 mm (2.28–2.76 in.).
  • Wing upper side: Brownish red and orange, leading edge of forewing with row of black blotches, also in middle of wing. White blotch on tip of forewing and on leading edge of hind wing between two black blotches. Wing margins comprised of, from the outside in, a light-coloured edge, a black strip, and a row of pale yellow blotches.
  • Wing underside: Marbled grey and brown. Basal half darker than outer edge. Small pale stripe in middle of hind wing. Wing edges with shiny dark blue stripe.
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests, often close to waterways. Also cultural environments.
  • Flying time: Initially April–May (extremely rare in Finland), then late July–September.
  • Overwintering form: Adult butterfly (very rare in Finland).
  • Larval foodplant: Different kinds of deciduous trees, e.g. aspen (Populus tremula), elms (Ulmus) and willows (Salix).

The Compton tortoiseshell is a casual guest in Finland, with only a few individual sightings, sometimes with years in between. Wandering butterflies arrive in Finland from the east.

Compton tortoiseshells can be differentiated from large tortoiseshells and yellow-legged tortoiseshells that they resemble by the white blotches on the upper surface of their hind wings. Compton tortoiseshells also lack the rows of blue blotches along the outside of their hind wings.

Males wait for females in the edges of forests, in large meadows and beside roads where they defend their territory. The females lay their eggs in clusters in the branches of the host plant (usually nettle). The caterpillars live together as a colony on the host plant.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same subfamily

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