Cardinal or Great Fritillary male - Argynnis pandora male
Argynnis pandora male / Kardinaalsmantel mannetje / Cardinal or Great Fritillary male / Kardinal oder Grünes Silberstrich männchen / Le Cardinal mâle.
This species appears in southern Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Greece and central eastern Europe) and is extremely common in north Africa. It flies in forest meadows where it is strongly attracted to thistles - from tall purple varieties to stemless yellow ones depending on availability. The males can be territorial and will form territories based on a branch of a tree at the edge of woodland.
Here he will chase butterflies as they pass along the woodland margin.
In Europe it is difficult to distinguish in flight from related species the Silver Washed, Niobe, High Brown and Dark Green Fritillaries (Argynnis paphia, niobe, adippe and aglaja) although it is rather duller and greenish. Close inspection will reveal a green shading (of varying extent) on the upperside although in some populations this appears to be much reduced, such as in Crete. The rich water-melon pink underside forewing patch is the key diagnostic feature. Some of the females in north Africa are enormous.