- Subfamily: Nymphalinae - Nymphalini
- Wingspan: 40-52 mm
- Flight period: (Jan) Apr - Oct (Dec)
- Spread: Common
- Host plants: Urtica dioica, Urtica urens, Humulus lupulus
The Aglais urticae more commonly known as Small Tortoiseshell , has a wingspan of 40-52 mm.
Butterfly present throughout Europe, in Italy it is absent only from Sardinia *, it can also be found in temperate Asia up to Japan,
some imported specimens have been spotted in New York.
Orange-red in color with black and yellow spots, it has a series of small blue spots on the margin of the rear wing. Very similar to Vanessa polychloros but the latter is larger and fawn in color, while the Vanessa of the nettle is red-orange.**
Very common butterfly until the 90s its presence has significantly decreased in almost all its range in Western Europe. Sexual dimorphism is not present except for the slightly larger size of the female than the male. The name Aglais is a tribute to Aglaia, one of the three Cariti (for the Romans the three Graces), that of dazzling beauty, of splendor. The term "urticae" refers to the main host plant of the caterpillars of this butterfly.
Polivoltina flies from April, when the wintering adults reappear, to late October. It winters as an adult in small groups in attics, caves and similar shelters. Fast-flying, he stops on the ground to warm up.
Unlike other members of her family, she has a gregarious behavior so it is not difficult to see several individuals in thermoregulation , close to each other and sometimes even close to individuals of other species. It frequents both uncultivated meadows and pastures from sea level to mountain level, sometimes it can also be found in rocky terrain.
The spiny caterpillar is black with broken yellow bands.
The larvae feed on Urtica dioica and Urtica urens (nettle), and Humulus lupulus (hops)
* Lepidoptera mundi https://lepidoptera.eu/ - Fauna Europea https://fauna-eu.org/
** Bestimmungshilfe für die in Europa nachgewiesenen Schmetterlingsarten - http://lepiforum.de/