Large Tortoiseshell - Nymphalis polychloros - Olmera

Large Tortoiseshell – Nymphalis polychloros – Olmera

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Scientific name: Nymphalis polychloros
  • English common name: Large Tortoiseshell
  • Spanish common name: Olmera, Mariposa de los olmos

The Large Tortoiseshell – Nymphalis polychloros – Olmera is a large and attractive butterfly that often sunbathes on tree trunks or rocks with its wings open. The adults hibernate through the winter but can be seen flying on warmer days.

Large Tortoiseshell - Nymphalis polychloros - Olmera

The main upperwing colour is an orangey red with large black marks towards the front edge and blue half moons around the hind edge. The under wings have a very dark, mottled brown pattern with a roughly shaped edge.

The caterpillars of this species grow to 4.5cm in length, they are mainly black with orange spots and a broken orange line running above the legs, the spiky looking hairs are a paler orange / tan colour.

  • Wing size: 50-63mm
  • Altitude: Sea level to 1700m
  • Flight time: Winter and Spring in hotter areas, Summer in cooler areas, in several generations.
  • Over-wintering: Hibernating butterfly
  • Caterpillar food plant: Poplar, Willow, Elm
  • Distribution: Most of Europe, North Africa
Large Tortoiseshell - Nymphalis polychloros - Olmera
Large Tortoiseshell – Nymphalis polychloros – Olmera

Similar species: Comma (Nymphalis c-album) which has a very ragged edge.

Butterflies of Iberia. These are included in the list of butterflies in Andalusia. Images taken in Andalucia, Southern Spain.

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