Butterflies

Beauty makes us love, and butterflies have worked our proclivity for the beautiful into a favored spot among insects. While many others including their closely-related but often more humble-looking relatives, the moths, are reviled by humanity, the butterflies are well-loved symbols of our dreams and fancies; they are the forebears of fairies, living myths in their own way. And unlike the unearned bad reputations of other insects, at least we can say the butterflies’ are well-deserved.

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7 thoughts on “Butterflies

  1. Hello Michael, would you mind adding the scientific names to some of these butterflies? For example your Mourning Cloak looks like our Camberwell Beauty, Nymphalis antiopa. Your Little Copper looks like a Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas. The American Lady looks similar to our Painted Lady, Vanessa Cardui and your Viceroy looks like a Monarch, Danaus plexippus. It’ll save me popping over the pond :0)

    1. Well turns out the Mourning Cloak is Nymphalis antiopa, and the Little Copper (also known as an American Copper, which is very American of us, ha!) is Lycaena phlaeas.

      We’ve got the Painted Lady, but the American Lady, Vanessa virginiensis, has two big large spots on the hindwing, whereas V. cardui has four smaller ones, so I think I’ve got that one right.

      The Viceroy, Limenitis archippus, is a very convincing Monarch mimic, but smaller and it has a crossing line on the hindwing to distinguish it from its “superior.”

      I’ll definitely add the names. (I was probably thinking the posts were tagged, but this page only links to the images.) You are more than welcome on this side of the pond, however!

      1. Thanks Michael. I thought a few of them looked familiar. Presumably the Viceroy is using Batesian mimicry to help protect itself from predators. I understand that the Monarch is toxic due to the caterpillar feeding on Milkweed. Occasionally we do get a wind-blown Monarch here in the UK but it will never colonise as we do not have Milkweed.

      2. You know, I believe the Viceroy was long held as a Batesian mimic, but I read an article (where I don’t remember) recently suggesting it is in fact a Müllerian mimic. Apparently, it is quite noxious-tasting to predators, too.

        And I have to ask, how many Monarchs have you seen in the past two years? It had been about that long since my last one, that is up until last week. That was quite a sight for sore eyes! It wasn’t very amenable to having its photo taken however. :o)

    1. So quite a few folks on your side of the pond have presumably seen as many as I have in the last two years! I say sincerely, Good for them — but it is a sorry state of affairs over here for the Monarch at present. Here’s hoping the one I saw last week is a good omen. There’s certainly plenty of milkweed in the yard, though nary a Monarch caterpillar.

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