Melitaea (didyma) didyma (Esper, [1777])
 Melitaea (didyma) didyma (Esper, [1777])

• TYPE LOCALITY. «...in der Gegend von Uffenheim» [Bavaria, Germany].

• SYNONYMS: cytheris (Mueschen, 1781); athulia (Fabricius, 1787); neera Fischer von Waldheim, 1840; orientalis Herrich-Schaffer, 1856, nom. praeoccup.; alpinci Staudinger, 1861, nomen nudum; occidentalis Staudinger, 1861, nomen nudum; meridionalis Staudinger, 1861, nomen nudum; dalmatina Staudinger, 1861, nomen nudum; graced Staudinger, 1861, nomen nudum; rossica Staudinger, 1861, nomen nudum: meridionalis Staudinger, 1870; occidentalis Staudinger, 1871; dalmatina Staudinger, 1870; etc., see below.

• RANGE. Europe, N. Africa, Asia Minor, W. Siberia to Altais and Tuva, Tian-Shan, Ghlssar, Alai; NW. China.

• DISTRIBUTION AND VARIATION. Ecologically as well as morphologically, this is a rather plastic and highly variable taxon. Many of the above forms have been treated as separate species- yet the latest observations suggest that these are to be included in the superspecies didyma (Esper, [1777]). Both individual and geographical variation great. Specimens vary both in individual size and in the degree of development of the black spots on the wings. In addition, females varying in ground colour of the FW. The nominotypi-cal subspecies (= kasanskyi Krulikovsky, 1901; = marginata Ksienschopolsky, 1912, nom. praeoccup.; = niesiolowskii Bryk, 1940; = uralicola Bryk, 1940; = crimitaea Bryk, 1940; = maledescripta Bryk, 1940; = ponttfex Bryk. 1940; = itkolensis Alberti, 1969) occurs in the European part, W. Siberia, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. The mountains of Central Asia support the following subspecies slightly differing from each another: kirgisica Bryk, 1940 (?= geminella Bryk, 1940) Tarbagatai and Saur mts., Tian-Shan; turkestanica Sheljuzhko, 1929 (= turanica Staudinger, 1886, nom. praeoccup.; pseudoala Sheljuzhko, 1928, infrasubspecies) -Alai; and elauar Fruhstorfer, 1917 - Ghissar.

• TAXONOMIC NOTES. The status of the desert populations referred to as ambra Higgins, 1941 (= dschungarica Oberthur, 1909, nom. praeoccup.; = perplexa Higgins, 1941; = manoni Hanus, 1996) remains unclear. Some students consider it as a distinct species, others only as an ecological form of didyma.

• HABITATS AND BIOLOGY. Preferring dry, warm, open landscapes up to 2,500 m a.s.l. Flight period: May to September, in two or more generations, depending on ecological conditions. Polyphagous like most of the congeners. Host plants: Plantago, Veronica, Viola, Scrophularia, Linaria, Dianthus, etc.

• SIMILAR SPECIES. Melitaea interrupta, M. latonigena: on UNH some or all veins commonly outlined with black scales. M. ala, M. ninae, M. kotshubeji: on UPH, submarginal lunules obscure or absent; aedeagus slightly curved. M. enarea: aedeagus slightly curved. M. per sea, M. mimetica, M. athene: on UNH, submarginal orange fascia broken, split into separate spots, each of latter typically bordered proximally by a black lunule.


Photo and text: Guide to the BUTTERFLIES OF RUSSIA and adjacent territories Volume 2. PENSOFT, Sofia - Moscow. 2000

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