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Araschnia levana

  • Name also: Map Butterfly
  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: True Brushfoots – Nymphalinae
  • Wing span: Small(–medium-sized), 28–40 mm (1.12–1.57 in.).
  • Wing upper side: First generation (f. levana) yellowish orange with black spots, blotches and areas. Front tip of forewing with white blotches and hind wing margin with blue braid. Second generation (f. prorsa) black with white strips and blotches. In addition red stripes especially on margin of hind wing.
  • Wing underside: First generation’s forewing a mix of burgundy, brown, white and light brown blotches. Hind wing from burgundy to lilac, intersected by thin white stripes. Second generation with both forewing and hind wing rust red with white stripe.
  • Habitat: Rich forests and meadows.
  • Flying time: First generation late April–late-June, second generation July–August.
  • Overwintering form: Cocoon.
  • Larval foodplant: Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).

The map is quite a new arrival in Finland, with the first only spotted in the 1970s and ’80s. The species has spread from the east, from north of Lake Ladoga. Nowadays it can even be found rarely in northern Finland.

Different generations of map butterflies look quite different from each other, almost like different species. The black end-of-summer form (f. prorsa) resembles the poplar admiral and purple emperor, but is significantly smaller. The yellowish orange spring form (f. levana) is recognisable by the blue braid on its hind wings. The network of thin white stripes on its hind wings is also characteristic of the species.

Males of the spring generation in particular defend their territory on meadows and forest clearings while they wait for females to arrive. The females lay their eggs in piles under nettle leaves. The caterpillars live in colonies and make their cocoons on the stalks of nettle leaves.

Other species from the same group

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