'nireus' ?

Chris J. Durden drdn at mail.utexas.edu
Fri Nov 10 11:50:41 EST 2000

Some shades of blue change to shades of green when wetted. Upon subsequent
drying they do not change back. This is common among relaxed dried
specimens that are then spread but it also occurs in some living
individuals in wet weather. The North American *Battus philenor* and
*Basilarchia astyanax* are two that frequently do this. The width of the
ribs of the diffraction grating on the scales determines the blue color.
When wet the grating relaxes, the ribs spread apart and the inter-rib
distance changes from blue to green. I suspect this is the origin of the
two names of your swallowtail. It is also possible that the different
definition of the blue to green bounary in different cultures and even in
different families (is turquoise blue or green?) may have contributed.
........Chris Durden 

At 12:16  10/11/00 +0300, you wrote:
>While you all argue over the Gillett(e) nomenclature problem, I'm puzzling
>over one of my one, here in Kenya, and thought I might as well get help out
>there. It may sound a rather naive and simple question, but I sure am in the
>dark regarding it. Papilio nireus is sometimes given the common name 'Narrow
>Blue Banded Swallowtail' in some identification books, whereas other books
>call it 'Narrow Green Banded Swallowtail'. I am just an amateur, and am
>illitrate in Latin, so could someone shed a light as to what the word
>'nireus' really describes about the swallowtail? The specimen I have in my
>collection, shows a clearly, distinct blue band, that is in no way green.
>Thanks for the help,


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