It has taken a while, but I have finally completed the second instalment of my Corsican trip report. This post will focus on the smaller side of things…the invertebrates. The abundance of insects that was encountered during our various meanderings was one of the big highlights of the trip for, especially as I am used to a fairly limited number back on Bardsey. I found it great fun identifying all the butterfly and new dragonfly species that I came across, using some of the ID sites at the end of this blog as my point of reference. There were some pretty cool and stunning species, and I could not identify (or photograph!) them all, but I have done my best to include as many as I can in the following write-up, which follows a systematic list style. I hope you enjoy.
A selection of insects
Dragonflies – Odonata
Dragonflies were a great part of the trip, especially since I encounter very few on the island back in Wales. Since we visited a mix of different habitats during the trip, we managed to find a nice range of dragonfly species, many of which were new to me. Particular hotspots for odonata were the reservoir above Galeria, and the reeds and river just inland of Plage de Ostriconi. I recorded seven species of Dragonfly, and six Damselfly species during the trip, which I have included below with some images where possible.
Anisoptera – Dragonflies
Zygoptera – Damselflies
Butterflies – Lepidoptera part I
All in all I recorded 32 species of butterflies, with some being a common sight throughout corsica, and others requiring specialist habitats and thus restricted to areas that are suitable. Everywhere we went there were great
Hesperiinae – Skippers
Mallow Skipper – Carcharodus alceae
I saw just one of these during the trip, which was on a relatively exposed hill top on some thistle plants, a little way from Calvi.
Lycaenidae – Blues
Small Copper – Lycaena phlaes
This common species was present in a variety of locations, most often in the higher altitude areas with bare rocky hillsides and flowers lining the paths.
Brown Argus – Aricia agestis
I saw a few of these during the trip, and it seemed to be quite common on the coast near Galeria.
Geranium Bronze – Cacyreus marshalli
This attractive little hairstreak was present in small numbers around the garrigue scrub on the coast.
Holly Blue – Celastrina argiolus
The only place I saw this species was on the coast at Plage de Ostriconi, where there was some scrubby woodland which held about 10 of these individuals.
Papilionidae – Swallowtails
Scarce Swallowtail – Iphiclides podalirius
I saw a couple of these smart papilios: one near the reservoir above Galeria, and a couple on our drive from Galeria to Ponte Lecchia on some thistles.
Corsican Swallowtail – Papilio hospiton
This endemic species of Papilio essentially replaces the Swallowtail in Corsica, and is relatively widespread on the island. I cam across perhaps ten individuals during out time there, ranging from the coast to the higher valleys.
Pieridae – Whites
Clouded Yellow – Colias croceus
I found this species to be relatively abundant, with large numbers particularly in the grassy slopes below Monte Cinto. They were, however, present all over the island and perhaps were the commonest species encountered.
Brimstone – Gonepteryx rhamni
Again, I only saw a few of this species, mainly in wooded valleys and rocky gorges.
Cleopatra – Gonepteryx cleopatra
I only recorded a handful of these smart butterflies, which were in a large Beech woodland at Cascade des Anglais.
Large White – Pieris brassicae
A common species all over the island
Green-veined White – Pieris napi
Another common species seen in a variety of locations.
Mountain Small White – Pieris ergane
I recorded perhaps 10 or 20 of these delicate whites, which were amongst the high alpine meadow and Corsican Pine habitats above 1000m.
Nymphalidae – Nymphs
One of Corsica’s specialities, this smart butterfly seemed very widespread on the island, and occurred in a variety of habitats. I saw them on the coast amongst the garrigure scrub, in the corsican pine forests lining the rocky gorges inland, and also on the verges of coastal roads.
Silver-washed Fritillary – Argynnis paphia
Amongst the most frequent-seen species during the trip, this stunning butterfly was present in particularly high numbers within the pine forests at higher altitudes (i.e. not on the coast)
Corsican Fritillary – Argynnis elisa
I only saw this smart endemic species in the higher altitudes, perhaps above 1000m. It was relatively common on the sparsely vegetated mountain slopes and more open forest habitats on the sides of river valleys.
Mediterranean Fritillary – Argynnis pandora
I saw two of these fritillaries, both on the coast near Galeria feeding on some thistles
Queen of Spain Fritillary – Issoria lathonia
Relatively frequent in the mountainous areas, in a similar habitat to the Corsican Fritillary.
Southern White Admiral – Limenitis reducta
Seen only at the coast, but relatively common here. Best site for me was the walk to Girolata.
Peacock – Aglais io
Seen sporadically during the trip, mostly at higher elevations and in woodland.
Sardinian Small Tortoiseshell – Aglais urticae ichnusa
Seen only on the upper exposed rock faces of Monte Cinto (2500m), perhaps four individuals in total.
Painted Lady – Vanessa cardui
Very common all over, often moving northward in small numbers. Particularly high numbers in the meadows below Monte Cinto.
Corsican Heath – Coenonympha corinna
A common species which I found from the coast to upper mountainous areas over 1500m. One of the most widespread species encountered.
Southern Grayling – Hipparchia aristaeus
Seen occasionally in the rocky gorges near Asco and nearby valleys.
Great Banded Grayling – Brintesia circe
Three or four individuals found above Cascade de Anglais.
Wall Brown – Lasiommata meguera
This was a common species throughout the island, noted mainly in the garrigue scrub, but also in rocky and dry pasture land inland.
Wall Brown – Lasiommata parameguera
A slightly smarter species than the preeceding one, this occurred in similar areas, but was perhaps a little more common at higher altitudes.
Meadow Brown – Maniola jurtina
Commonly seen around the open areas outside pine forests in higher mountainous areas.
Speckled Wood – Pararge aegeria
Common in coastal forests and giant heath cover.
Southern Gatekeeper – Pyronia cecilia
A handful recorded in the open scrub and woods at Plage de Ostriconi
Moths – Lepidoptera part II
A common species all over the island, from the coast up into the more mountainous regions.
Pine Processionary – Thaumetopoea pityocampa
A bit of a pest species in the pine forests in mountainous areas, with the highly irritable caterpillars abundant in the late spring, causing rashes and quite bad reactions with many walkers. The larvae spin silk tents in the branches of the pines, hatching out in early-June. I saw perhaps 10 adult moths during our time there.
Silver Y – Autographa gamma
Common throughout Corsica.
Red Underwing – Catocala nupta
A smart but timid species that I saw on our walk up the Tassineta Valley. Adult moths would erupt from the tree trunks and fly off like the Grasshoppers that have brightly-coloured hindwings. It was very hard to see them once they had landed, though.
Oak Yellow Underwing – Catocala nymphagoga
I saw two of these smart moths, both on our way up through giant heather towards the reservoir near Galeria.