- Subfamily: Melitaeinae - Melitaeini
- Wingspan: 34-49 mm
- Flight period: May - Aug
- Spread: Common
- Host plants: Plantaginaceae - Valerianaceae...
The Melitaea didyma also called Spotted Fritillary is a beautiful butterfly of the Nymphalidae family with a wingspan of 36–42 mm.
Widely distributed in southern Europe with the exception of Corsica and Sardinia,
inthe rest of Europe it is also absent in Ireland, Iceland, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.**
In North Africa it is present only in the western part of the Mediterranean, from Tunisia to Morocco. *
The upper surface of the wings is of a uniform orange color marked by a series of ill-defined lines and dots and more or less widespread black spots. Along the costa of both wings, there are triangular or roundish black lunettes that continuously surround both wings. In the female the background color is less bright while the lunulae, lines and dark spots are more marked.
The morphology and the particularities of the drawings on the lower page, in particular on the hind wings, remain almost unchanged in all the specimens and allow their identification. The antennae are yellowish brown, with a blunt whitish vertex.**
The sexual dimorphism in addition to the characters listed above is also given by a slightly larger size in the female. It frequents sunny meadows and grassy clearings up to about 1500 m. It is bi or trivoltine depending on the latitude. It lays a large number of eggs in each generation and is therefore sighted in large numbers even in restricted areas. It overwinters in the larva stage.
The caterpillar measures about 25 mm, is white with orange spots that are interspersed in three parallel rows. In correspondence of these spots arise some tubercles of black color
The caterpillar feeds on various species of Plantaginaceae, such as Linaria vulgaris and Plantago lanceolata of Polygonaceae such as Polygonum bistorta, Scrophulariaceae such as Veronica sp. and Verbascum sp., Valerianaceae like Valeriana officinalis, can also be found on Antirrhinum, Linaria, Stachys and Centaurea.
* Lepidoptera mundi https://lepidoptera.eu/ - Fauna Europea https://fauna-eu.org/
** Bestimmungshilfe für die in Europa nachgewiesenen Schmetterlingsarten - http://lepiforum.de/