It is similar in appearance to the gatekeeper (P. tithonus), which is found further north, and the Spanish gatekeeper (P. bathsheba). The gatekeeper has spots on the underside of the hind wind which the southern gatekeeper lacks. The Spanish gatekeeper has quite a different underwing pattern with a prominent while line.
The southern gatekeeper, like many Satyrinae, exhibit sexual dimorphism. The male is smaller than the female, the front wing of the male is 15/16mm whereas a female front wing is 20mm, and has patch of scent-producing scales known as the androconia, which can be seen as a dark patch on the upper side of the forewing.
Distribution and habitat
The southern gatekeeper likes hot localities and is found in northern Africa and southern Europe; in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Portugal, Spain including the Mallorca and Menorca, South-eastern France, Corsica, Sardinia, Elba, Italy, Sicily, Albanis, Greece and Turkey. It is usually found in rough, open areas in lowland regions although in some areas it occurs up to 2000m.
Food plants are grasses including Deschampsia ceaspitosa
- Higgins, L.G., and Riley, N.D. (1970) Field guide to the butterflies of Britain and Europe. Collins, pp380.
- Pons, G., (2000). Les papallones diurnes de les balears., 87pp. Edicions Documenta Balear, Palma de Mallorca.