The Spanish Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia bathseba) is an insect in the Nymphalidae family of brush-footed butterflies.
The Spanish Gatekeeper Butterfly is brown and cream with orange on its forewings (front wings). On its forewings, it has a black circle with one or two white spots inside, called an eyespot. The underside of its hind wings (back wings) is brown with four or five orange-rimmed eyespots. The female has four eyespots on the underside hind wing, whereas the male has five. It also has a distinctive creamy bar across its hind wing. Its body is fluffy, thick, and brown. It has club-shaped antennae.
Its wingspan measures about 5 centimetres (2 inches). The male is usually slightly smaller than the female.
It is native to the Iberian Peninsula, France, Morocco, and Algeria. It is seen from May to July.
It is diurnal, active during the day.
The male is territorial and shoos away other butterflies from its territory.
The adult Spanish Gatekeeper Butterfly feeds on honeydew. It has a long proboscis to suck up nectar from flowers and honeydew.
The female lays eggs on grass. She lays about 500 eggs, which take 3-8 days to hatch. The eggs hatch into green caterpillars, which eat grass or plants. The caterpillars make a chrysalis, or pupa (like a cocoon), and the adult butterfly emerges after 8-15 days. This is called metamorphosis.
The Spanish Gatekeeper Butterfly lives for 2-5 weeks.
Rex Johnson provided the beautiful photographs of the Spanish Gatekeeper when he realised that I had the incorrect photo. Two photos show a Crab Spider attacking a Spanish Gatekeeper Butterfly. They are all good photos of the creamy bar across the hind wing and the diagnostic spotting.
Location of photographs: south of France
Photographer: Rex Johnson
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM