The Freyer’s Grayling

Hipparchia fatua

الصنوبرية الرمادية

Picture Resource: By Zeynel Cebeci - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0Link

Status: Scarce

The Freyer’s Grayling is a Ponto-Mediterranean species belonging to the family Nymphalidae. It is distributed in its eastern range from the Middle-east upto Turkmenistan. It is mostly found in dry and hot habitats at low altitudes in the coastal region and very commonly seen in olive groves, orchards and open spaces in coniferous woodlands. In Palestine, this species is widely distributed in the northern and central region in areas with woodlands such as in Wadi Fukeen. Data is deficient, possibly ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Threatened’ in the Palestinian region due to habitat destruction. The adults have wings with a dark earthy brown colour and very prominent ‘eyespots’ called as ‘Ocelli’ near the upper apical part of the underside of the forewings. These ocelli have a small white spot in the middle, surrounded by a circular black region and bordered with broad orange or brownish white bands. Between each of the two eyespots there are two white spots. The lower side of both fore- and hindwings have a very typical ‘cryptic’ or unclear pattern with dark zigzag lines and stripes. There is also a short white band on the forewings. When the adults newly come out from the pupa, they have a metallic green colour along the sides of the forewings. This species is mostly seen flying from June to October and produces only a single generation in a year. The larvae feed on grasses (Family Poaceae).

These butterflies show a very interesting method for protecting themselves from their enemies – normally at resting stage, they keep their wings closed or folded up straight, and the forewings lowered between the hindwings. When attacked by enemies, they quickly raise the forewings such that the eyespots appear and confuse the enemies. The males are territorial and show very interesting courtship behaviour during the mating season.

Sightings: This species is distributed in its eastern range from the Middle-east upto Turkmenistan. It is mostly found in dry and hot habitats at low altitudes in the coastal region and very commonly seen in olive groves, orchards and open spaces in coniferous woodlands.In Palestine, this species is widely distributed in the northern and central region in areas with woodlands such as in Wadi Fukeen.

Conservation Status: This species is possibly ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Threatened’ in the Palestinian region due to habitat destruction.