Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775 – (Pandora or Cardinal)
The cardinal butterfly is undoubtedly one of the most exciting encounters with the butterflies of the Tuscan Archipelago. A butterfly of large dimensions and with a particularly slow and elegant flight, distributed mainly in the central-southern regions, while in the Tuscan archipelago it can only be observed on the island of Elba and on Giglio, where it completes only one generation per year. It loves frequent visits to clearings and forest edges, where it flies from late May to the whole of September, feeding on the large inflorescences of daisy family such as the thistle. This butterfly species is easy to distinguish between the sexes, since the female is usually larger and has a distinct green coloring of the upper edge of both wings, while in the male this coloring is less distinct, but the middle part of the ribs of the enlarged forewings falls on fusiform, due to the presence of the so-called “androconial scales”. With closed wings at rest, one can see the rich “cardinal red” coloration at the lower edge of the forewings, from which one of the common names of this species derives. The larva feeds mainly on violets.