Melanargia galathea (NL: Dambordje / EN: Marbled White / DE: Schachbrett, Damenbrett / FR: Demi-deuil, Échiquier, Échiquier commun, Arge galathée) is a butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. Its very distinctive chequered black and white pattern is quite different to that of most other Satyrines, which tend to be patterned in shades of brown and orange. The pattern is easily remembered by insectivorous birds, and is probably a form of aposematic (warning) coloration, which functions to advertise the toxic nature of the butterfly. An image displaying the upperside of the wings can be seen here.
The sexes can be distinguished by examining the dark peppered bands on the underside - in the male these are a neutral grey colour, while in the female they are a warm greyish brown. Neither sex is prone to much in the way of variation, although entirely black or entirely white forms are known, but these and intermediate forms are exceptionally rare.
This species is distributed across much of Europe, but is absent from Portugal, most of Spain, most of the Mediterranean islands, and Scandinavia. Beyond Europe it occurs in northern Africa, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Image: Soglio (CH) – 12/07/2012
© Johan Dierckx
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