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Southern Gatekeeper. Pyronia cecilia (Vallantin, 1894)

Diputación de Málaga

Southern Gatekeeper. Pyronia cecilia (Vallantin, 1894)

Wingspan: From 3 to 3.6 cm.


Closed wings: The hindwing is grey and rather marked with brown colour. A large section of the wings is white, and forms a Y, and we can see a bulk on their inner part. The forewing is orange, with a double eyespot and a wide grey and brown margin.

Open wings: They usually do not stretch their wings. Both sexes are orange with broad brown margins and a double eyespot in the shape of an eight. Female butterflies do not have a small white dot close to the anal angle on the hindwings. Male butterflies have a brown spot (androconia) in the centre of the hindwing, which is clearly lined by orange veins.

Similar species

When the Gatekeeper's wings are open it can be confused with the Gatekeeper, but its female butterflies have a small dot on the hindwing and the male androconia is not clearly lined by veins; and the Spanish Gatekeeper, though both sexes have a series of eyespots on the hindwings.

Biology and Habitat

It flies from May to September, but it is more frequent during the first three months. There is only one generation a year.

It lives in open habitats, such as woodland and scrubland, olive and almond groves, and it is more common in those locations which have plenty of grass plants and are not too rugged. Actually, its caterpillars feed on grasses, above all on the genus Brachypodium.

Distribution in the Great Path

As for the GMP, this species is everywhere but on the coast. However, on stages 3 and 4, it is scarcer and limited to certain places, the same as in the north of the province.