Clear and Present Evidence

Boydtd at Boydtd at
Tue Apr 4 17:24:34 EDT 2000

I agree that the status of tullia in N. America needs to be clarified.  My 
experience of this species is mainly in Ireland, one of its European 
strongholds.  According to the literature (The Moths and Butterflies of Great 
Britain and Ireland, Vol 7 Part 1, 1987, Edited by Emmet and Heath) there are 
three distinct subspecies or forms (not subspecies in sensu stricto) in the 
British Isles, scotia in Scotland, polydama and davus in England while 
Ireland has both scotia and polydama.  My experience here in Ireland is that 
both scotia and polydama do occur, but so do all intermediates between them on
 the same site.  This raises the question "how different are they really?"  
The species here is confined to undrained peat bogs, is notably rare and is 
declining.  It is fully protected both here and in the European Community 
generally.  In Maine and Vermont I have found tullia/inornata to be common on 
roadsides generally, and it resembles scotia, but I don't think it could be 
because unlike European populations it is common, double brooded and its 
habitat is quite different.  I can't comment on western American or Siberian 
populations, but I note that subspecies mixturata spans the Bering Stait into 
western Alaska.  There is certainly a chain of sub-species througout the 
length of Eurasia, and I would imagine this to be the case also in North 

My comments obviously solve nothing, but they give a little background for 
further work which is clearly needed on a holarctic basis.  Incidentally, 
here we call this species the Large Heath Coenonympha tullia.  The Ringlet is 
quite a different  species Aphantopus hyperantus.  Thank goodnes for Linnaeus!

Trevor Boyd (Butterfly Conservation, Northern Ireland)

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