Friday, June 16, 2017

Two Butterflies, But One Species

While walking a sun-warmed country road yesterday, I noticed two beautiful butterflies wafting by, and they danced and weaved in the air as if they were courting each other.  But how could that be, I wondered, since they seemed to be two different species:  one was iridescent purple with pronounced red spots, and the other appeared from afar to be all black with broad white bands on all four wings. Then, bless their hearts, they both came to rest not far from my feet, spread their lovely wings, and stayed right there for their portraits.  Now I could get a good long look at them and search on-line to identify their species.  And guess what?  They ARE the same species!  The same polytypic species, that is: Limenitis arthemis.

They do have different common names, however.  The purple one with red spots is called the Red-spotted Purple (L. arthemis astyanax).

And the dark one with broad white bands is called the White Admiral (L. arthemis arthemis).  A closer look at this one reveals some iridescence as well as bright-blue and faint-red spots that correspond to those on the Red-spotted Purple.

So maybe they WERE doing a courting dance along that country road.  They certainly were well-matched for beauty.  I wonder:  if they DO get together, what will their children look like?

1 comment:

The Furry Gnome said...

Great picture of the two of them! So co-operative! After your title, I thought it might be those two. Surprised me too.