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Rock Grayling

Hipparchia semele

  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: Browns – Satyrinae
  • Wing span: Medium-sized, 36–55 mm (1.4–2.15 in.). Females larger than males.
  • Wing upper side: Brown, forewing with two black eyespots, often with white centre. Hind wing margin with broad yellow and orange strip with eyespot close to back corner of wing. Male’s forewing with oblique, dark and shiny, fragrant male scale-line.
  • Wing underside: Forewing outer part yellowish beige and basal part orange, margin with two eyespots, often with white centre. Hind wing a combination of brown and white. Male with white lateral stripe and often clearer patterning compared to female.
  • Habitat: Barren moors and rocky outcrops as well as coastal sand dunes.
  • Flying time: Mid-July–mid-August.
  • Overwintering form: Caterpillar.
  • Larval foodplant: Different grasses (Poaceae), e.g. sea lyme grass (Elymus arenarius).

Rock graylings are usually found in Finland on the Åland Isles and the southern coastline. They always rest with their wings pressed together, which makes the upper side difficult to study without catching it. The species can be recognized by the brown and white flecks on the underside of the hind wing and the two almost equally large eyespots on the underside of the forewing which have white centres and yellowish beige margins.

Males usually fly around looking for females, but they can also wait for them in their territory on e.g. the top of sand dunes. Males emit a strong fragrance to entice females, which lay their eggs individually on straw and other thread-like formations close to the host plant.

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