Leading butterfly-watching tours in the Paklenica National Park (Croatia)

During the June of the last two years, I had the great pleasure to lead, together with Josip Ledinšćak, Naturetrek butterfly-watching tours in Croatia, so I had the possibility to admire the Paklenica N. P. in perhaps the best time of the year, when insects, flowers, reptiles and birds show their best.

This rather unspoiled national park, that I’ve described in winter as well in this post (link ->), extends on the southern edge of the Velebit range, particularly harsh and uninhabited karstic mountains characterized by the curiously eroded rocks and by their pale limestone colour.

The growth of the Mediterranean maquis, here, is limited by the very strong and cold wind, called “bura“, that blows from north-east mainly in winter, but not so rarely in other seasons as well.

This unexpected climatic conditions give to the area a rather peculiar mix of Mediterranean, Alpine and Balkan elements that result in a diversified wildlife that however often spread in low densities, looking for the limited micro-habitat with optimal conditions that can change strongly in short distances.

During my two visits, in 2018 and 2019, the main target were butterflies and moths, but exploring for days the area I couldn’t not notice many other interesting creatures, harvesting a satisfying number of good pictures.

I have to say that Paklenica is an endless inspiring ground for people that like to take macro-photos to the least wildlife and to the flora!

Dramatic gorges not far from the southern border of Paklenica
Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia)
Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala), male
A praying mantis (Empusa fasciata)
Small White (Pieris rapae)
Hairy Shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum)
Eastern Baton Blue (Pseudophilotes vicrama)
Mala Paklenica at sunset
View at Seline
A skipper (Thymelicus sp.)
A cicada (Lyristes cfr. plebejus)
An ant-lion (Palpares libelluloides)
Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)
Southern Comma (Polygonia egea)
Egyptian Grasshopper (Anacrididae aegyptum)
Jerusalem Thorn (Paliurus spina-christi)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
Great Sooty Satyr (Satyrus ferula)
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)
Caterpillar of Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)
Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris), male
Lang’s Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous)
Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), male
Southern Wart-biter (Decticus albifrons)
The Mala Paklenica gorge
An umbellifer (Bupleurum cfr. veronense)
Great Banded Grayling (Brintesia circe)
Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera)
Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca)
Common Pincer Grasshopper (Calliptamus cfr. italicus)
A jewel beetle (Chalcophora sp.)
Woodland Grayling (Hipparchia cfr. fagi)
Večka Kula tower of Starigrad
Hoary Footman (Eilema caniola)
Waved Beauty (Menophra abruptaria)
View to Starigrad
View to the long island of Pag
Mountains north of Velika Paklenica
A velvet ant (Dasylabris cfr. maura)
Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)
Juvenile of Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata)
Egyptian Grasshopper (Anacrididae aegyptum)
A cicada (Lyristes cfr. plebejus)
Balkan Marbled White (Melanargia larissa)
A jumping spider (Philaeus chrysops)
Southern Darter (Sympetrum meridionale)
Ragusa’s Nine-spotted (Amata kruegeri)
A crab spider (Thomisus cfr. onustus) eating a Meleager’s Blue (Meleageria daphnis)
Rose Chafer (Cetonia cfr. aurata)
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) on a pink (Dianthus cfr. velebiticus)
European Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus apodus)
Pair of Balkan Green Lizards (Lacerta trilineata)
A bush cricket (Barbitistes yersinia)
Blue-spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini)
View to the barren island of Pag
Funny shaped big limestone rock
A bush cricket (Barbitistes yersinia)
Schmidt’s Marbled Bush-cricket (Eupholidoptera schmidti)
Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium illicis)
Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia)
Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus cfr. lavatherae)
An owlfly (Libelloides macaronius)
Variety of flowers blown by the breeze
Small Blue (Cupido minimus)
Idas Blue (Plebejus cfr. idas)
Blue-spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Eroded rocks
Twin-spot Fritillary (Brenthis hecate)
Dirt road climbing the uninhabited mountains of Velebit range
Common Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Old dry-stone walls
Meleager’s Blue (Meleageria daphnis)
Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta)
Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania)
Idas Blue (Plebejus cfr. idas)
Dalmatian Algyroides (Algyroides nigropunctatus)
A longhorn beetle (Cerambyx miles)
Carniola Burnet (Zygaena carniolica)
View to Starigrad
Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica)
Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)
Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre)
Dalmatian Stone Grasshopper (Prionotropis hystrix)
European Stonecrop (Petrosedum ochroleucum)
Common Clubtail (Gomphus vulgatissimus)
A nailwort (Paronychia kapela)
Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis)
Olive Bee Hawkmoth (Hemaris croatica)
Assassin Bug (Rhinocoris cfr. iracundus)
A longhorn beetle (Agapanthia cardui)
Small Dusty Wave (Idaea cfr. seriata)
A shield bug (Ancyrosoma leucogrammes)
A noctuid (Cucullia sp.)
Male of Four-spotted Footman (Lithosia quadra)
Sycamore Moth (Acronicta aceris)
A geometrid (Nychiodes dalmatina)
Plum Lappet (Odonestis pruni)
Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth (Hyles euphorbiae)
Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon)
Wild Leek (Allium cfr. ampeloprasum)
Bright Wave (Idaea ochrata)
Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena)
A prickly pear (Opuntia cfr. ficus-indica)
Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa)
Balkan Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus bornhalmi)
Lamb’s Ears (Stachys cretica)
A golden-drop (Onosma echioides)
Jerusalem Thorn (Paliurus spina-christi)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Mediterranean Lace Border (Scopula submutata)
Pale Bugloss (Echium italicum)
Mala Paklenica gorge
Eastern Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans albistriata)
Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe)
Tufted Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus cfr. flocciferus)
Chimney Sweeper (Odezia atrata)
Perennial Cornflower (Centaurea montana)
Geranium Argus (Eumedonia eumedon)
Felted Vetch (Lathyrus cfr. pannonicus)
White Dittany (Dictamnus albus)
Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus)
Horned Bee-orchid (Ophrys scolopax cornuta)
White-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus cfr. lucorum)
A clearwing (Chamaesphecia masariformis)
Funny limestone rocks emerging from the maquis
Upright Brome (Bromus cfr. erectus)
A burnet (Zygaena punctum)
Springtime Dung Beetle (Trypocopris cfr. vernalis)
Dalmatian Wall Lizard (Podarcis melisellensis)
Window Bellflower (Campanula fenestrellata)
Common Grayling (Hipparchia semele)
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
Small Emerald (Hemistola chrysoprasaria)
Small Waved Umber (Horisme vitalbata)
Single-dotted Wave (Idaea dimidiata)
A pug (Eupithecia cfr. gemellata)
Lesser Cream Wave (Scopula cfr. immutata)
Orange Footman (Eilema sororcula)
A tortricid (Abrepagoge treitschkeana)
A cossid (Dyspessa ulula)
Balkan Marbled White (Melanargia larissa)
Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros)
Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)
Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Tuberous Pea (Lathyrus cfr. tuberosus)
Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus)
European Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia)
Rocks eroded by rainwater
The island of Pag, with its moon-surface appearance, in the distance
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
A yellow flax (Linum sp.)
Fig (Ficus carica)
Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius)
Some wasps (Polistes foederatus) by their nest
Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)
A leek (Allium paniculatum)
Two mating clearwings (Chamaesphecia schmidtiiformis)
Pyramidal Orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) in different tinges
A footman (Spiris cfr. slovenica)
Southern Darter (Sympetrum meridionale)
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula), female
European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Large Wall Brown (Lasiommata maera)
A yellowhead (Inula verbascifolia)

Luca Boscain

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