As featured in The Times Top 50 Holidays in Spain


Butterflies of the Alpujarras

Butterflies of the Sierra Nevada in Spain

With over 2,100 plant species (more than 80 of those endemic) the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucia are also home to an enormous variety of insects, butterflies and birds.

As far as we can find, there is no accurate census of the number of species of butterflies in the Sierra Nevada, and the figure of 120 species is often quoted. However, authoritative Spanish sources quote a likely 116 species of butterflies in the Sierra Nevada mountains, 5 of them endemic [1]. The same sources quote a total of 223 species of "diurnal" butterflies within Spain. This means that more than half of Spain's daytime butterflies can be found in an area that represents less than 1% of Spain's land area.

1] Conservación de Mariposas Diurnas en Los Parques Protegidos de España Peninsular por Doctores Javier Carrión Herrero y Miguel López Munguira, available as a direct download (in Spanish) as a pdf article or from the downloads page of Zerynthia - a Spanish association for the protection of butterflies and their environment.

Some of the butterflies that can be seen in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Latin name Common name Latin name Common name
Agrodiaetus Amanda Amanda’s blue Libythea celtis Nettle-tree butterfly
Anthocharis belia Moroccan orange tip Lycaenia alciphron Purple-shot copper
Aporia Crataegi Black-veined white Maniola Jurtina Meadow brown
Argynnis niobe Niobe fritillary Melanargia ines Spanish marbelled white
Arica agestis Brown Argus Melanargia occitanica Western marbelled white
Artogeia rapae Small white Melitaea didyma Spotted fritillary
Cacyreus marshalli Geranium bronze Melitaea phoebe Knapweed fritillary
Carcharodus alceae Mallow skipper Mellicta deione Provencal fritillary
Carcharodus lavatherae Marbled skipper Mellicta parthenoides Meadow fritillary
Celastrina argiolus Holly blue Muschampia proto Sage skipper
Coenonympha dorus Dusky heath Papilio machaon Swallowtail
Colias crocea Clouded yellow Pararge aegeria Speckled wood
Colias alfracariensis Berger’s clouded yellow Parnassius Apollo Spp nevadensis Apollo
Cyaniris semiargus Mazarine blue Pieris Brassicae Large white
Erynnis tages Dingy skipper Plebejus argus Silver-studded blue
Euchloe crameri Western dappled white Polyommatus icarus Common blue
Eurodryas aurinia Marsh fritillary Pontia daplidice Bath white
Gonepteryx rhamni Brimstone Pseudophilotes panoptes Panoptes blue
Gonepteryx Cleopatra Cleopatra Pyrgus carthami Safflower skipper
Hipparchia alcyone Rock grayling Pyrgus malvae Grizzled skipper
Iphiclides podalirius Scarce Swallowtail Pyronia bathseba Spanish gatekeeper
Issoria lanthonia Queen of Spain fritillary Satyrium spini Blue-spot hairstreak
Kanetisa circe Great banded grayling Satyrus actae Black satyr
Lampides boeticus Long-tailed blue Thymelicus sylvestris Small skipper
Lasiommta megera Wall brown Vanessa atalanta Red admiral
Leptidia sinapsis Wood white Zerynthia rumina Spanish festoon
Leptotes pirithous Lang’s short-tailed blue