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07 Apr

A great diversity of butterflies in Valencia, Spain


In this article we analitze the diversity and some of the key butterfly species that can be found in the Spanish region of Valencia, a butterfly sanctuary.


Why are there some many butterflies in Valencia?


Butterflies in Valencia Region

Valencia region, in East Spain, is considered one of the most diverse European areas for butterflies in all Europe. A staggering 159 species of butterflies have been recorded. That means 70% of all the species found in the Iberian Peninsula.

The key of this diversity is due to its variety of habitats. In the South and West, the climate is much dryer, with a semi-desert habitat. Here we find some beautiful butterflies from the Euchloe genera, i.e. Green-striped white (Euchloe belemia), Portuguese dappled white (Euchloe tagis) and Western dappled white (Euchloe crameri). In addition, in the same area but close to the cereal crops where the larva host plants grow, we can see the Sooty orange-tip (Zegris eupheme).



The scrubland, a rich habitat for butterflies 


Butterflies in Valencia

During March/April, if we visit the Mediterranean scrubland we might find a nice variety of Lycaenidae such as: Panoptes blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes) or the stunning Adoni’s blue (Polyommatus bellargus). In addition, we can see the colourful Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus), Black-eyed blue (Glaucopsyche melanops) and Panoptes blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes). Other species we might encounter include Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Provence orange tit (Anthocharis euphenoides) and the beautiful Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi).

Later in the season, the butterfly diversity changes giving place to Spanish gatekeeper (Pyronia bathseba), Southern marbled skipper (Carcharodus boeticus), Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae), Dusky heath (Coenonympha dorus), Striped grayling (Pseudotergumia fidia), False ilex hairstreak (Satyrium esculi) and the Blue-spot hairstreak (Satyrium spini) among others.

In the valleys, are found mainly 3 different groups of butterflies. The first group is formed by species with a marked Ethiopian origin; Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius), Mediterranean skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus) and African grass blue (Zizeeria knysna), being the three of them more abundant towards the end of the summer. The second group are butterflies with a migratory tendency: Desert orange tip (Colotis evagore) and Plain tiger (Danaus chrysippus) which is very common species in marshes. Finally, the third group is for the invasive species such as the Geranium bronze (Cacyreus marshalli).


Two mountain ranges creating different conditions


Spanish butterflies in Valencia Region

Two mountainous systems cross the Valencian Region, the Baetic and the Iberian. The Baetic System comes all the way from Sierra Nevada, which is the highest mountain in the Iberian Peninsula. It follows a NE direction and once the system arrives to Alicante, it gives place to numerous mountains ranges reaching over 1500 m.s.s.l. For instance, Aitana or Sierra Mariola, the latest being has its higuest 1390 m.a.s.l.

In May, these mountains are covered by a carpet of aromatic flowers mixed with thyme, sage and chamomile, this is heaven for butterflies! Then, we can easily find Spanish marbled white (Malanargia ines), Knapweed Fritillary (Melitae phoebe), Silver studded blue (Plebejus argus) and Western marbled white (Melanargia occitanica) in good density.



Spanish butterflies in Valencia Region

On the other hand, the Iberian System follow a SE direction colliding with the Baetic system in the Monduver mountain, near Gandia (Valencia). The Iberian range is different in terms of climate and altitude allowing also a nice variety of butterflies. Here can be found the Apollo (Parnassius apollo), the Small blue (Cupido minimus), Escher’s blue (Polyommatus escheri), Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron), Spanish argus (Aricia morronensis) and Meleager’s blue (Meleageria daphnis) among many others. There will also beautiful fritillaries like the, Spotted fritillary (Melitae didyma), Provençal fritillary (Mellicta deione), Meadow fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides) and Spanish fritillary (Eurodryas desfontainii).

When these mountains range decrease in altitude and become dryer and warmer, we find a good habitat for Great banded greyling (Brintesia circe), Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) and Oberthür’s anomalous blue (Polyommatus fabressei).

In conclusion, Valencia region offers a great number of butterflies, being one of the most diverse regions in Spain.

We post regularly photos of this beauties in our Instagram page. Join one of our day  butterfly walks around Valencia Region!

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