AN international team led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF) and the Zerynthia Association has identified a new species of butterfly, exclusive to Madrid and Andalucia.

The new species is called Poecilocampa navalagamellae, in reference to the Madrid municipality of Navalagamella, according to a note from the research team, which also describes a subspecies from Andalucia, called ‘turdetana,’ in honour of the Turdetani, ancient pre-Roman people of the Iberian Peninsula living in the valley of the Guadalquivir.

This new species of butterfly is medium-sized, although the females have a wingspan of more than 4 centimetres, whose habitat is usually mature forests, especially those of oak and holm oak.

The new species is characterised by flying at night and during the cold months, between November and January, explains Ruth Escobes, co-author of the study and member of Zerynthia.

“This fact surprises many people who think that in winter there are hardly any butterflies, but in every season of the year it is possible to find adapted species capable of resisting the cold”. Escobes said.

Spain is one of the European countries with the greatest diversity of lepidopteran species, a group that includes butterflies and moths; there are approximately 5,130 species of butterflies throughout the country.

Each one of them plays an important role in the ecosystem, and many of them act as nocturnal pollinating insects. They are also a food source for birds, spiders, lizards, mice and other animals.

Butterfly monitoring is vital for assessing butterfly population trends and to understand the causes of change.

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