([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775)
- Subfamily: Melitaeinae - Melitaeini
- Wingspan: 35-50 mm
- Flight period: Apr - Sept
- Spread: Common
- Host plants: Asteraceae - Plantaginaceae
The Melitaea phoebe also called Knapweed Fritillary is a beautiful butterfly of the Nymphalidae family with a
wingspan of 35 - 50 mm.
It is widespread throughout Italy and Sicily *, but at risk of extinction in central Europe. In Europe it is absent from the United Kingdom, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark
and from the Scandinavian Peninsula.
The back of the wings is orange and with a network of lines and black brown bands with a very variable pattern. The lower page of the rear wing is creamy white with a submarginal band, yellow with orange spots; the front wing has the same design as the upper page but with the grid just outlined and a series of white spots in the apical area.
A distinctive feature is the dark orange postdiscal band and the yellowish orange disc band in the posterior wing.**
The Melitaea phoebe is bivoltine, flickers from mid-April to June in the first generation and between July and September in the second. It can be confused with the Melitaea cinxia, but differs from the latter by the absence of black spots on the upper part of the rear wing as well as by the larger size and the slightly less lively coloring. It is found in flowery environments from the basal level up to 1500-2000 meters of altitude.
Caterpillars feed on Asteraceae such as Centaurea (including Centaurea jacea), in addition, they also feed on thistles (for example various Cirsium species such as Cirsium arvense) and Plantago.
* Lepidoptera mundi https://lepidoptera.eu/ - Fauna Europea https://fauna-eu.org/
** Bestimmungshilfe für die in Europa nachgewiesenen Schmetterlingsarten - http://lepiforum.de/