Genetics of Wood Nymph Spots?

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Sun Jul 12 08:14:59 EDT 1998

The systematics of Wood Nymphs is quite complex and the geographic 
variation in both spot pattern and the extend of the yellow mark has 
been studied.

Frederik Nijhout has written an engaging and detailed book on THE 
which gives a lot of information on the problem in general, and mention 
Wood Nymphs (p.132-133) with some references. 

The variability in patterns of Wood Nymphs in southern New Jersey has 
been recognized for more than a century (John B. Smith  1884, Bulletin 
Brooklyn Entomol. Society 6:125).  IN the early 20th century quite a few 
"different species" of nymphs were described based on spot patterns.  
Even in areas where individuals are fairly uniform, odd individuals with 
spot patterns characteristic of other areas show up.  Are these vagrants 
or mutants or expressions of hidden genetic variation.  Lots of 
opportunity for good study of this species in different parts of its 

Tom Emmel reviewed this in the Journal Lepidop.Society (1969 v 23:165) 
and there are probably lots of more recent local studies. 

M. Gochfeld

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