Pararge xiphia or Madeiran Speckled Wood

Pararge xiphia or Madeiran Speckled Wood

The Madeiran Speckled Wood is a … butterfly endemic to Madeira Island.  The Madeiran Speckled Wood belongs to the family of the Nymphalidae, and is considered to be an endangered species.  This endangered species condition is due to the fierce competition for habitat and food with a very common and related butterfly, Pararge Aegeria. (Source)


The woodland butterfly was formerly common and widespread from sea level to an altitude of 1000 meters.  With the arrival of the continental cousin in 1976, the Madeira Speckled Wood retreated to areas of denser laurel and chestnut forests.  This habitat is at mid elevation in northern and central Madeira.

This butterfly flies all year round but more so in the Summer months.


The wingspan of the Madeira Speckled Wood is 50 to 60 millimeters.  These butterflies come in shades of dark brown with orange or yellow spekles.  Towards the bottom of the wings, the orange spekles are filled with two dark circles with a white dot in the middle. This is actually one of the characteristics of this very species.  Their wings are bordered by a darker brown area than their cousins.  Furthermore, Madeira Speckled Wood Butterlies have a little white rectangle in the middle of the front edge of the wings. Lastly, the Madeira species has a convex (and not concave) outer edge at the forewing. 

Hosts and Food Plants

The larva feeds on several Grasses or Graminae, including the Brachypodium sylvaticum, Holcus lanatus, Festus donax and Agrostis gigantea.  

Endangered Species

The Ocean-Retreat Blog wrote already about various endemic and or endangered species living on Madeira. You can find them here: Monk Seals, Desertas Wolf Spider, Zino’s Petrel, Madeira Buzzard, and Plants of Madeira Part one and two.

Ocean Retreat