Mallow Skipper - Carcharodus alceae

Scientific Name: Carcharodus alceae.

English Name: Mallow Skipper.

French Name: La Grisette (='the grayling') or l'Hespérie de l'alcée (='the mallow skipper').

5 Key Characters:
  • small (forewing 13 - 16 mm long).
  • upperside marbled grey and shades of brown.
  • a white crescent in the middle of the forewing and another towards the tip.
  • underside is brown with some pale spots in the middle and along the edge.
  • rather moth like.
Lookalikes: Tufted Marbled Skipper C. flocciferus, but this species is uncommon. Dingy Skipper Erynnis tages, which does not have mottled hindwings and is a duller brown and grey. The browns of C. alceae are rather warm, and the species has a rather raggedy appearance and haphazard pattern compared to E. tages. The Mallow Skipper itself varies, with summer individuals being paler and with a more contrasting pattern than the spring individuals.

Habitat: Flower rich and dry grasslands, fallow land, steep banks and gardens. In gardens they are attracted to the ornamental members of the mallow family such as hollyhocks, and on roadside banks and agricultural fallow the abundance of wild mallows Malva spp.

Flight Period: March-April-May-June-July-August-September-October.

Caterpillar: small and green with a dark head, all year, overwintering as a caterpillar.

Host Plant: Mallows (Common Mallow Malva sylvestris, Musk Mallow M. moschata, Greater Musk Mallow M. alcea, Dwarf Mallow M. neglecta, Palm Leaf Marshmallow Althaea cannabina, Common Hollyhock Alcea rosea).

Status: This is a southern species, but can be locally common in the Touraine Loire Valley and Brenne.

ed by Loire Valley Nature:
Photographs are numbered from left to right and top to bottom. All photos will enlarge in a new window if you click on them. 1 on Red Deadnettle Lamium purpureum.

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