"New butterfly species found in Northern Ireland" - 1st x in 112 yrs

Trevor Boyd boyd at glade12.fsnet.co.uk
Fri Dec 7 05:37:17 EST 2001

This discovery seems to have sparked quite a bit of interest on the net.  I
and the others involved with this "new" species are not collecters, but we
are observers and photographers.  We don't have any hang-ups about
collecting, but consider it necessary only for reference specimens and

I have noted "Wood Whites" around for years but never thought that they
might not be what they seemed.  Why should I?  In my experience the two
species, Leptidea sinapis and L. reali are so similar that they can not be
distinguished by eye, especially in flight.  Some say they can see
differences, but quite honestly I can't say I agree with them.  They must be
different species however because they do not interbreed, and the best
definition I know of a species is that its population does.  What we now
call Leptidea reali was known as L. sinapis juvernica in Ireland, differing
from the nominate on account of its greenish hind wing undersides.  It would
have to be green in Ireland, wouldn't it?  Both species are small and people
refer to at least four different species as "small" whites, and this
includes the female Orange Tip, and think they (or their larvae) all eat
cabbages when in fact Leptidea spp eat vetches.

Yes, we will have to look at museum specimens with provenance to measure
their genitalia, and we will have to submit fresh specimens from all parts
of their range to the same, but unfortunately photographs taken in the field
will not suffice to tell one from the other.  The work is all ahead of us -
perhaps they have different flight periods or different habitats.  We will
be busy observing, noting and drawing conclusions for some time to come.  I
wonder which species inhabits Anne Kilmer's territory on Lough Mask.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anne Kilmer" <viceroy at GATE.NET>
To: <fnjjk1 at uaf.edu>
Cc: <leps-l at lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 12:37 PM
Subject: Re: "New butterfly species found in Northern Ireland" - 1st x in
112 yrs

> James Kruse wrote:
> > Hmmmm... Perhaps the active antagonists of collecting in the UK in
> > decades have hindered these discoveries of cryptic species..... :-0
> >
> > James J. Kruse, Ph.D.
> > Curator of Entomology
> > University of Alaska Museum
> > 907 Yukon Drive
> > Fairbanks, AK, USA 99775-6960
> > tel 907.474.5579
> > fax 907.474.1987
> > http://www.uaf.edu/museum/ento
> >
> >
> >
> > on 12/4/01 3:22 PM, Chris Conlan at conlan at ADNC.COM wrote:
> >
> >
> >>Perhaps some collecting is still justified in the UK?  Just when you
> >>you know it all something like this happens.......:)
> >>
> >>Chris (smiling wide as I write this)
> >>
> >>
> Oy. To the casual butterfly-spotter in Ireland, a greenish little white
> butterfly is a green-veined white, ho hum, and unless these guys have
> unusual size or behavior, we wouldn't look twice at them.
> Heck, they might even suppose it's a cabbage white, mightn't they?
> An active school butterfly-gardening program, of course, would turn out
> a lot of avid butterfly spotters, and they could learn to look for these
> little guys and distinguish them.
> But oh, don't you want the collectors to open their collecting trays and
> examine all those "wood whites" to determine their true identity?
> I wonder, can you make a proper identification of this bug from a good
> photograph? I mean, might nature photographers find pictures of it among
> their "wood whites"?
> Anne Kilmer
> South Florida (and Mayo, Ireland)
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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