Anthocharis cardamines

Gonepteryx cleopatra

Linnaeus, 1767 – (Cleopatra)

In this magnificent medium-sized member of the family Pieridae, the differentiation between the sexes is easy to see, the male has a distinctive dark orange spot on the upper part of the forewings, which can also be seen translucent in the lower part, so with a little attention it becomes possible be able to distinguish the two sexes even when the butterfly is resting with folded wings. It prefers to fly in Mediterranean maquis environments, forest edges and meadows. In Italy, this species is widespread in central and southern Italy.
On Elba it is possible to see it flying from sea level to much higher altitudes. It completes two generations a year and begins to appear in the first warm days of spring until late autumn. He overwinters as an adult. The green larvae nestle perfectly on the branches and leaves of their host plant, which mainly consists of Rhamnus alaternus.

Anthocharis cardamines

Papilio machaon

Linnaeus, 1758 – (Dovetail)

Because of its wide distribution and magnificent pattern, it is perhaps the Italian butterfly par excellence. It is a species of considerable size (60-90 mm). In Italy, it is distributed throughout the peninsula, but its presence extends throughout Europe, Asia and all of North America. Adults have creamy yellow wings with black spots and veins. A pair of very conspicuous tails extend from the hind wings and very close to these tails is a conspicuous patch of red, outlined in black and flanked by two other patches of intense blue colour. It is an adaptable species and is practically omnipresent on Elba in meadows, along roadsides, but also in flower gardens and at the edge of the Mediterranean maquis. On the island, this species usually has three generations a year, appearing in spring, summer and late autumn. The caterpillar has a beautiful green color, is decorated with black, orange striped bands and has a feature that makes it truly unique. On the head, when threatened, she can eject a specific organ (osmeterium) that emits a smelling substance that can discourage the would-be enemy. Host plants: Daucus carota, Phoeniculum vulgare and Ruta spp.

Anthocharis cardamines

Vanessa atalanta

Linnaeus, 1758 – (Vanessa Atalanta or Red admiral)

It is a medium-sized butterfly (red admiral) with a wingspan between 50 and 60 mm. In the Tuscan archipelago it occurs on all the larger islands. The upper surface of the wings is black with two conspicuous red bands, the first obliquely on the fore wings, the second following the edge of the hind wings, also the white spots at the tips of the fore wings are conspicuous. The two sexes can hardly be distinguished. It is a species that goes through several generations per year and winter as an adult, which means that it can often be found on a few warm days in the middle of winter. They have a very powerful and fast flight, characterized by fairly frequent stops, but these butterflies are undoubtedly capable of long-distance movements. Adults are very drawn to nectar-rich flowers and fermented sugars.
It is a very territorial species and will usually defend its territory from the other butterflies that happen to be passing in its “flight zone”. They prefer a semi-open environment and wooded edges. The caterpillar, which feeds mainly on stinging nettles, is very variable in appearance and color, but always has appendages in the form of branched thorns.