Butterflies of Europe
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
glycerion, Jadovno, Velebit mountains, Croatia
© Peter Bruce-Jones
Coenonympha comprises 39 known species, found variously in
North America, Europe, north Africa and temperate areas of Asia.
There are 14 species in Europe.
glycerion is found across much of Europe from northern
Portugal to Russia, but is absent from many areas including Britain,
Sweden, Norway, Finland, southern Spain and western France. Beyond
Europe it's range extends to Siberia, Mongolia and Japan.
The size and number of ocelli on
the underside wings varies considerably according to locality. In
the Spanish subspecies C. glycerion iphioides
they are particularly prominent. In examples from cooler areas the
ocelli are often entirely absent. The white markings on the
hindwings also vary greatly, some examples having just one or two
small white patches, while in others these are linked to form a
prominent white post-median band.
Coenonympha glycerion, Jadovno, Velebit
Coenonympha glycerion is found in sheltered grassy habitats
including sub-alpine hay meadows, woodland clearings and scrubby
grassland, at elevations between about 300-1800 metres.
butterflies emerge from early June to late August according to
locality and lay their eggs singly on grass blades, usually close to
caterpillar when fully grown is pale green, with a prominent white
stripe below the spiracles, and a series of thin faint whitish
stripes along the back. It feeds nocturnally on grasses including
Melica ciliata and Bromus erectus.
The chrysalis is of
the usual Satyrine shape, pale green in colour, with a peppering of
tiny white dots. The inner margins of the wing cases are white,
edged with black. It is suspended by the cremaster from a stem or
Both sexes commonly nectar at a wide
range of flowers including ox-eye daisy, heather, scabious, thyme,
vetches and umbellifers.
are active on warm sunny days but tend to hide among bushes in hot
weather. On overcast days, and when roosting overnight, they usually
sit at the top of dead flower heads, most commonly on plantains.
Coenonympha glycerion ambushed by crab
spider Thomisus onustus
© Peter Bruce-Jones
depicted above has been ambushed by a crab spider
Thomisus onustus ( Thomisidae ). This
remarkable spider has a chameleon-like ability to change colour to
match it's surroundings, so it can be white, yellow, pink or
variegated in appearance. The change of colour takes about 2 or 3
days to complete however, so it is common to find a spider on the
"wrong colour" of flower.
Crab spiders often
spend several days motionless on a flower head, waiting for their
next meal to fly in. They have excellent forward vision, and move
immediately and stealthily towards any bee or butterfly which
settles on the flower. In contrast, their peripheral vision is poor,
so much so that it is possible for a butterfly to settle alongside
the spider without being attacked. If on the other hand it is
unfortunate enough to walk across the spider's field of vision, the
powerful pincer-like forelegs immediately seize the butterfly. The
spider then bites it on the neck, injecting it with a paralysing
venom which incorporates enzymes that liquefy the butterfly's
internal tissues. Thomisus onustus then
sucks out the body contents of the butterfly, discarding the
chitinous exoskeleton and wings.