Hamearis lucina
Hamearis lucina, known as the Duke of Burgundy, is a Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

 in the family Riodinidae
The Riodinidae are a family of butterflies. The common name "metalmarks" refers to the small metallic-looking spots commonly found on their wings. There are approximately 1,000 species of metalmark butterflies in the world...

. For many years, it was known as the "Duke of Burgundy Fritillary", because of the adult's similar markings to "true" fritillaries of the family Nymphalidae
The Nymphalidae is a family of about 5,000 species of butterflies which are distributed throughout most of the world. These are usually medium sized to large butterflies. Most species have a reduced pair of forelegs and many hold their colourful wings flat when resting. They are also called...



The male has a wingspan of 29–31 mm (1.1–1.2 ), and the female 31 millimetre. The upper side of the wings are marked in a chequered pattern strongly reminiscent of a fritillary butterfly (family Nymphalidae); however, the Duke may be separated by its wing shape. H. lucina also has a distinctive underwing pattern (see image below).


The species range is restricted to the Western Palaearctic, from Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, the UK and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 to the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

. It is the sole representative of its (sub)family in Europe.


H. lucina was added to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan
United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan
The United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan is the governmental response to the Convention on Biological Diversity signed in 1992. When the Biodiversity Action Plans were first published in 1994, the conservation of 391 species and 45 habitats was covered. 1,150 species and 65 habitats are...

 in 2007. It is also listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom and was implemented to comply with the Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds...

, which requires anyone wishing to trade the species to have a licence. H. lucina is listed on the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , founded in 1963, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world's main authority on the conservation status of species...

, but is considered of "least concern" on a Europe-wide basis.


Two distinct habitats are used in the UK:
  • Grassland
    Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

     on chalk
    Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

     or limestone
    Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

  • Clearings in ancient woodland
    Ancient woodland
    Ancient woodland is a term used in the United Kingdom to refer specifically to woodland that has existed continuously since 1600 or before in England and Wales . Before those dates, planting of new woodland was uncommon, so a wood present in 1600 was likely to have developed naturally...

Colonies prefer areas where the food plants grow among tussocky vegetation. The species prefers north- or west-facing slopes in downland
A downland is an area of open chalk hills. This term is especially used to describe the chalk countryside in southern England. Areas of downland are often referred to as Downs....



As adults, the sexes exhibit distinctly different behavioural patterns. Males are highly territorial, defending small sheltered, but warm, areas. Spectacular aerial "dog fights" occur between males. Females are less "showy", but are prone to wander, frequently travelling 250 m. New colonies have been established more than 5 km from the nearest known existing colony.


Eggs are typically laid in small groups (up to 8) on the underside of leaves of a host-plant; though they may also be laid singly or on foliage adjacent to the food-plant (e.g. if primulas are growing among dense vegetation, old females laying in hot weather). Particularly "good" plants or leaves may have eggs from more than one female. The egg is spherical, with a flattened base, measuring 0.6 mm in diameter. The eggs are initially glossy and opaque, turning to a uniform pale green; prior to hatching, they develop a distinct dark purple blotch. Significant, though unintentional, predators of H. lucina eggs are large snail
Snail is a common name applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. When the word is used in its most general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails. The word snail without any qualifier is however more often...

s, as they eat primulas in the spring. The eggs hatch after 7–21 days depending on weather conditions.


Newly emerged caterpillars are almost transparent, with a few long pale hairs. They move down to the base of leaf stems, where they spend the daylight hours (the caterpillars are nocturnal). For most of its first instar
An instar is a developmental stage of arthropods, such as insects, between each molt , until sexual maturity is reached. Arthropods must shed the exoskeleton in order to grow or assume a new form. Differences between instars can often be seen in altered body proportions, colors, patterns, or...

 (before the first moult), the caterpillar is pale green. There are four instars, lasting about 4 weeks. The full-grown fourth-instar caterpillar measures 16–17 mm. It is pale brown with a dark brown dorsal stripe and numerous hairs; there is also a central black spot on each segment (inside the dorsal stripe).

Caterpillars feed mostly on the upper leaf surface, leaving leaf-veins intact, and quite unlike slug
Slug is a common name that is normally applied to any gastropod mollusc that lacks a shell, has a very reduced shell, or has a small internal shell...

 feeding signs. The caterpillars will not eat yellowed leaves, and will move on to another host-plant in search of green leaves. H. lucina caterpillars do not feed at temperatures below 11°C or when it is wet. They have no significant predators or parasites.


A pupa is the life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. The pupal stage is found only in holometabolous insects, those that undergo a complete metamorphosis, going through four life stages; embryo, larva, pupa and imago...

e of H. lucina are short, just 9 mm (0.354330708661417 in) long. They are pale cream (somewhat tinged pink) with evenly spaced dark brown spots and a few pale hairs. They are found either very low in dense grass or on the ground. The pupal stage lasts 9 months, with likely high mortality rates. Predators of pupae include shrew
A shrew or shrew mouse is a small molelike mammal classified in the order Soricomorpha. True shrews are also not to be confused with West Indies shrews, treeshrews, otter shrews, or elephant shrews, which belong to different families or orders.Although its external appearance is generally that of...

s and slugs.

Host plants

In the UK:
  • Cowslip
    Primula veris
    Primula veris is a flowering plant in the genus Primula. The species is found throughout most of temperate Europe and Asia, and although absent from more northerly areas including much of northwest Scotland, it reappears in northernmost Sutherland and Orkney.-Names:The common name cowslip derives...

     (Primula veris) — the majority of UK colonies
  • Primrose
    Primula vulgaris
    Primula vulgaris is a species of Primula native to western and southern Europe , northwest Africa , and southwest Asia...

     (Primula vulgaris) — woodland colonies
  • False Oxlip (Primula veris × vulgaris) — few colonies
  • Cultivated primulas
    Primula is a genus of 400–500 species of low-growing herbs in the family Primulaceae. They include primrose, auricula, cowslip and oxlip. Many species are grown for their ornamental flowers...

     — in captivity

Elsewhere in the species' range, other food plants include:
  • Oxlip
    Primula elatior
    Primula elatior, the oxlip , is a flowering plant in the genus Primula, found in nutrient- and calcium-rich damp woods and meadows throughout Europe with northern bordes in Denmark and southern parts of Sweden, eastwards to Altai Mountains and on the Kola Peninsula in Russia...

    (Primula elatior)

External links

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