Speyeria Shenanigans and Pieris

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Tue Sep 11 09:06:14 EDT 2001

Barbara asked about field marks.  I'm not sure which butterflies she's
specifically referring to (I think it's the Speyeria that Norbert has on his
e-Board), but I can say that she's not the only one who struggles with these
identifications.  The Fritillaries I enjoyed in Oregon recently were also
virtually impossible to separate.  There's no question that there are
various forms on the wing - especially when you consider both the ventral
and dorsal views (which Norbert's page does not show), but there are also
very many similarities.  Size is a factor, along with the coloration (and
extent of scaling) of the disc on the ventral hindwing.  The degree and
pattern of black scaling on the dorsal forewing is a good identifier, as
well as the extent of silver spotting.  The size and coloration of the
submarginal band on the ventral hindwing is also a good identifier.  Of
course, one would like to think that identification might be as simple as
knowing your location - but that isn't always enough.  I, too, ran into what
I'm sure map to multiple "subspecies" of S. zerene.  With that much
variation, it's difficult to isolate the differences.

I did witness a number of mating pairs - and I think that outside of
bringing them into captivity, it's only through field observation that we
can gain any insight.  It would appear that there is no cross breeding
amongst species, but I can't prove that with my field observations alone.

It's tempting to consider the possibility that all of these bugs are the
same critter.  On the other hand, it's truly overwhelming when you stumble
into a Fritillary frenzy and you consider the possibility that they might
just in fact all be different.  I saw at least three frits that day which
were totally unique from all of the others.  When it's one in thousands
you're looking at, you can't hardly afford to ignore even a single one.

In 90 degree F. plus heat, it's not for the faint hearted, that's for sure.

Mark Walker

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Barb Beck [mailto:barb at birdnut.obtuse.com]
> Sent: Friday, September 07, 2001 9:55 AM
> To: Norbert.Kondla at gems3.gov.bc.ca; 'lepsl'; 'altabugs'
> Subject: RE: Speyeria Shenanigans and Pieris
> Thanks Norbert for the pages on Pieris and Speyeria.
> Question to Norbert and others.  I can see differences in the 
> butterflies
> pictured but being a novice cannot differentiate individual 
> variation from
> variation between the species/subspecies/whatever.  The 
> references I have
> are somewhat confusing.  Specifically what field marks are 
> you using to
> differentiate these butterflies?
> My question about field marks is not just for my own 
> curiosity but because
> even with my limited knowledge of these insects I am involved 
> in teaching
> others how to identify them in the field
> I fully appreciate that my question is hardest to those of 
> you intimately
> familiar with these butterflies.  You just know the butterfly 
> because it
> simply looks like that butterfly.  You no longer have to 
> think in terms of
> field marks that beginners must use to get a handle on the 
> butterfly before
> they can identify the butterfly by "looks".  I am struggling 
> hard preparing
> a learning CD of bird sounds from my recordings for my students. I am
> unfortunately to the point where a song just sounds like the song of a
> particular species.  My student need pointers to listen for 
> until they reach
> that level... which they are never going to do if I do not 
> quit looking at
> butterflies and get the earphones back on so I at least have 
> the first CD
> cut for them on Monday.
> Barb Beck
> Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
> Barb.Beck at ualberta.ca
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-leps-l at lists.yale.edu 
> [mailto:owner-leps-l at lists.yale.edu]On
> Behalf Of Kondla, Norbert FOR:EX
> Sent: September 6, 2001 1:24 PM
> To: 'lepsl'; 'altabugs'
> Subject: Speyeria Shenanigans
> I ran into some interesting Speyeria in southern BC this 
> season. I have put
> an image and a request for comments on 
> http://www.norbert.eboard.com under
> the heading of "BC Speyeria". This is not an easy group of 
> butterflies to
> deal with, in part due to the usual conflicting descriptions and
> interpretations presented in the literature and possibly also due to
> inadequacy in presently recognized species-level taxonomy. 
> The image is
> large when viewed on the web site. Right click on your mouse 
> to copy the
> image into your system and resize it to suit your tastes and 
> to see all four
> specimens in one view. Enjoy.
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Norbert Kondla  P.Biol., RPBio.
> Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management
> 845 Columbia Avenue, Castlegar, British Columbia V1N 1H3
> Phone 250-365-8610
> Mailto:Norbert.Kondla at gems3.gov.bc.ca
> http://www.env.gov.bc.ca
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