Pyronia cecilia

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Southern gatekeeper
Southern Gatekeeper. Pyronia cecilia.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Tribe: Satyrini
Genus: Pyronia
Species: P. cecilia
Binomial name
Pyronia cecilia
(Vallantin, 1894)

Pyronia cecilia, the southern gatekeeper, is a butterfly of southern Europe and north Africa. It is a member of the subfamily Satyrinae in the family Nymphalidae.


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.

Southern gatekeeper showing lack of spots on underside of hindwing
Gatekeeper showing small white spots on the underwing
Spanish Gatekeep showing underwing pattern

Sexual dimorphism[edit]

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[edit]

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.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]