Hipparchia cretica, Crete - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Hipparchia cretica, Crete - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Hipparchia cretica


Hipparchia cretica is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae on the island of Crete, Greece.

Scientific name

Hipparchia cretica (Rebel, 1916)

Common name

Cretan Grayling


Family: Nymphalidae > Subfamily: Satyrinae > Tribus: Satyrini > Genus: Hipparchia


Females are usually larger than males, having more intense marks.

The upper side of the forewing is brown with a yellow-orange brown band in the postdiscal area and two “eyes". The underside of the forewing is yellow-orange with similar to the upperside “eyes".

The upper side of the hindwing is brown with a yellow-orange band in the postdiscal area. The underside of the hindwing is grey-brown, with black lines in discal, postdiscal, and submarginal areas, a white band in the postdiscal area, and has a small “eye".


Male to female: 50-70 mm


The butterfly has a fast fly 1-2 m from the ground and never opens the wings when resting. If it feels threatened, it raises the forewings so that the eyespot near the apex is visible to scare the enemy.

The butterfly often settles head downwards when nectar plants.

Both sexes fly in mid-May and June, but later the females move to higher altitudes to avoid the very hot dry summer days.


Hipparchia cretica in Crete lives in shrubland and forests, fields and mountains, dry habitats, rocky slopes or scrub from the sea up to about 1,600 m asl.

Food plant

The larva lives on Poaceae plants.

Flight Period

The butterfly flies in one generation per year.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Although Cretan Grayling is an endemic species with a restricted range, this butterfly is not believed to face major threats.

The butterfly is widespread and common across Crete. It is the only Hipparchia species flying on the island.


Least Concern (LC)

(*European Red List of Butterflies, 2010)

Hipparchia Cretica Distribution Map

*based on http://www.pamperis.gr/THE_BUTTERFLIES_OF_GREECE/MAPS.html

Hipparchia cretica location map based on greek butterflies distributions map by L.N. Pamperis (revised 2021)