Argynnis elisa Godart, 1823


Argynnis elisa: Adult (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Male (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Male (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Male (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Male (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Male (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Half-grown larva (Sardinia, 24/05/2012) [M] Argynnis elisa: Half-grown larva (Sardinia, Gennargentu, 1300m, 24/05/2012) [M] Argynnis elisa: Half-grown larva at the beginning of the penultimate instar (Sardinia, Gennargentu, 1300m, 24/05/2012) [N] Argynnis elisa: Half-grown larva in penultimate instar (Sardinia, Gennargentu, 1300m, 24/05/2012) [M] Argynnis elisa: Larva in penultimate instar (Sardinia, 24/05/2012) [M] Argynnis elisa: Larva in last instar (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Larva in last instar (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Larva in last instar (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Larva in last instar (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Larva in last instar (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Larva in last instar (e.l. Sardinia 2012) [S] Argynnis elisa: Pupa [S] Argynnis elisa: Pupa Argynnis elisa: Pupa [S] Argynnis elisa: Feeding pattern at Viola, Sardinia, 1300m above sea level, 24/05/2012. The larva was found below the hostplant well concealed in the vegetation. [N] Argynnis elisa: Larval habitat in a pasture at 1200m above sea level in Sardinia, 24/05/2012. [N] Argynnis elisa: Larval habitat in a pasture at 1200m above sea level in Sardinia, 24/05/2012. [N] Argynnis elisa: Larval habitat in a pasture at 1200m above sea level in Sardinia, 24/05/2012. [N]

Host plants:
The caterpillar lives on Viola species (violet). I found it in Sardinia at Viola riviniana and Viola alba dehnhardtii. The literature also mentions Viola corsica that is not rare in the higher altitudes of Corsica and Sardinia, but missed in the studied slope section (see below), but occurred in the vicinity.

Habitat:
Argynnis elisa inhabits extensively grazed pastures, clearings and general edges often in contact with woods in medium and higher altitudes (from about 600 to 1800m above sea level). I found the caterpillar in Sardinia in the central mountains in about 1200 to 1400m above sea level on pastures that were rich in a low growing broom and Viola. The caterpillars live often (but not exclusively) on Viola plants that are growing in light, low broom shrubs as I could observe also with Argynnis pandora (Sardinia) and Argynnis niobe (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence). These offer some protection against grazing. Presumably, the accumulation of the records in broom stands is rather more a stochastic effect, firstly because the caterpillars have been also found off the broom and the other because the violets are just more common in the protection of the numerous small broom bushes than in the open area.

Life cycle:
The L1-larva overwinters in the egg shell. The caterpillars can be found from April to June. I found them in Sardinia half-grown in the third last and penultimate instar in late May 2012 on the basis of feeding traces (see figure). The animals rested then below the violets partially concealed in the grass or moss. Pupation takes place as with Argynnis aglaja (probably the most closely related species) in a relatively dense cocoon in the litter layer.

The moths fly from late June to August.

Endangerment factors:
Argynnis elisa is at present probably only locally potentially threatened by abandonment of grazing and destruction of habitat. Generally the higher altitudes of Sardinia belong to the still quite well preserved and protected areas in Europe, so that presently there is no stronger threat.

Remarks:
Argynnis elisa is endemic to Sardinia and Corsica.



Argynnis adippe | Argynnis aglaja | Argynnis niobe | Argynnis pandora | Argynnis paphia