Satyrium edwardsii update

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Tue Jun 26 01:02:51 EDT 2001

Randy and all - comments inserted below

----- Original Message -----
From: "Randy Emmitt" <birdcr at>
Subject: Re: Satyrium edwardsii update

> Ron,
> I checked out your photos of S. e. meridionale and they do not look
> anything close to the edwardii we have in the NC sandhills, especially
> male. Does this subspecies appear as brown as my monitor shows it? I just
> checked my Moore County, NC photos from 1999 and they are gray,  not
> at all. My photos are at
> the female
> shown at the top of the page and the male below the female.

Yes, the photos at TILS web site of the types are "on the money". They are
definitely much more brown than the  grayish edwardsii you figure -
especially the male. We take all our photos outside in natural light - as
yours obviously are too being wild specimens. Light angles and degree of
shade do bring out some shade differences - but this should not be a factor
in these photos of your and my specimens. The specimens sent to me (two
pair) from Hoke and Cumberland counties were also brown but not as brown as
the SC types. The Transylvania County specimens are also brown - and just
like specimens of edwardsii I have personally collected and observed from
Macon County, NC.

As noted in my original note below, I was indeed surprised to see that the
NC specimens were so much smaller and shorter tailed than meridionale. I
had stated, fairly confidently, in my paper that I expected the coastal
plain pops in NC to either be meridionale or a blend zone form and not the
nominate. Those sent to me are definitely nominate edwardsii. I would still
expect some specimens to lean to the southern ssp. in that region. Any
individuals that might appear so are not referable to meridionale though.

For everyone's information, the gray vs. brown factor is not of special
concern in determining these two taxa. Even size - while the thing one
first notices - is not the primary factor. I see the strong tendency of
meridionale to have spots that are more like calanus bars and not dots as
in edwardsii edwardsii as the number one evolutionary subspecific
indicator. Next would be the expanded red on the HW and the much longer
tails. Third would be size. The variation is ground color would not play a
role unless entire regional populations were all gray vs. all brown.

Let me add this. This same "ranking" of character traits holds true in our
assessing the entire calanus complex. The most consistent species keys in
the calanus group are found in the markings at the anal angle of the
ventral HW. This is the area of display as these species sit on the ends of
leaves moving their  hind wings in a scissors motion at angles to
catch/reflect sun light to attract mates. These markings and this motion
has been frequently referred to in the lit as primarily a protective
devise - the theory is that the area is a mimic of a head and the tails of
antennae so that predators bite the area and not the real head. But the
fact that specimens are found with beak marks there does not prove this at
all. The ones bit on the real head die or get ate - so there is no possible
way to tell from wild specimens if the tail wagging is a real defense at
all. In one way it is totally counter productive as the color and action
actually draws attention - like a big target.  No, the real purpose and
function is as a loci for species to species mate identification - the
specific amount of red, shade of blue in thecla spot, ultraviolet
reflection, other stuff we aren't even aware of. After thirty years of
observing the banded group of hairstreaks that is my position. We have
absolutely no idea how they actually preceive each other.

> I know of no recent records of edwardii in NC other than Moore and
> ( June 2000) counties. Of course I don`t see much butterfly recording
> coverage in Cumberland or Hoke counties either.
> Randy Emmitt
> Rougemont, NC
> At 03:40 PM 6/25/01, Ron Gatrelle wrote:
> >Today I received a surprise but most welcome package from an old
> >buddy containing a series of North Carolina Satyrium edwardsii. The
> >individual subscribes to TTR and thought I would like to see these
> >just received my paper describing S. e. meridionale from South Carolina.
> >was right.
> >
> >Aiken County, SC lies next to Georgia. This county is the meridionale
> >locality. I had thought that the populations in Cumberland and Hoke
> >counties NC - also being in the upper coastal plain might be this new
> >subspecies or near it. I was wrong. Based on those sent me, meridionale
> >does not occur in North Carolina. So it is even more of a southern
> >than I had thought. Upper-southeast Georgia is a historically seldom
> >collected area. Meridionale should be looked for in that part of the
> >in particular.  True to the title of my article, meridionale is an
> >"obscure" subspecies. I am happy to receive southern specimens from
> >else who may have a question about southern edwardsii in their area.
> >
> >The specimens were from Fort Bragg (the individual is retired military)
> >Cumberland County (14 June 1984), a rural area of Hoke County (17 June
> >1972), and from the mountains in Transylvania County (4 July 1970). For
> >more info visit
> >
> >
> >Ron


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