Northern exposure...

Guy Van de Poel & A. Kalus Guy_VdP at
Sun Jan 13 15:03:27 EST 2002


I've regurlay seen Vanessas (atalanta as well as cardui) rather late in the
evening, but always when it was warm enough for them to fly, mostly on warm
summer evenings.
In the area I live in, Heidelberg/Germany, there are a lot of old pear
trees, just standing in the fields. In september/october a lot of these
pears will fall to the ground and start rotting, and attract a lot of
atalantas, Polygonia c-album and bees, flies, wasps, ...
Hornets will be always around, to hunt every insect coming to this free
I've seen them carry away all kinds of flies, honeybees, ..., but never a
butterfly. The ones they chased could always get away, it were scenes like a
world war 2 'Battle of Britain' dogfight between Spitfires and
 Hornets are a bit clumsy, letting themselves fall on their prey, and
keeping it to the ground by their greater mass while sting-killing it.
The butterflies always got away early enough, or the hornets could not get a
good grip on them, their large wings not being a good surface to cling on
Still, I found two sets of atalanta-wings, nicely cut off, the remains of
dogfights that a hornet won.
Hornets do fly at night, and it could be noted that the atalantas had
increasing difficulty to shake off the hornets the later it got, and of
course the less direct sunlight they had to warm themselves up.
Maybe the casualties were atalantas that stayed too late?
(or were drunk - rotting pears contain something like alcohol).


----- Original Message -----
From: Andrew Warren <warrena at>
To: Kenelm Philip <fnkwp at>
Cc: <leps-l at>
Sent: zaterdag 12 januari 2002 23:41
Subject: Re: Northern exposure...

> Ken,
> The record of V. atalanta dead on sea ice on May 21st raises a queation
> that has been bugging me for quite some time.  I am prepared to take a lot
> of heat on this one, but what the heck, I am curious if others have
> experiences that may support or refute this theory.
> Can Vanessas fly at night?
> What really made me consider this possibility seriously was an encounter
> on May 27, 2000, with a tattered Vanessa annabella at my mercury vapor
> light just before midnight (Idaho: Blaine Co., Silver Creek PReserve, 3 mi
> W Picabo, 4900').  After an active night of moth collecting, on my last of
> probably a dozen trips to the sheet , I was astonished to find a V.
> annabella sitting in the middle of the sheet (again, just before
> midnight), when no annabella was there earlier!!!  Now, in the tropics I
> have taken all kinds of butterflies at MV and UV lights (swallowtails,
> Pierids, Lycaenids, etc), but this almost
> always occurs shortly after sunset, and soon after the lights have been
> turned on (one could argue that these butterflies were perhced for the
> night very near the light source and became disturbed and attracted to the
> light).  The only butterflies in the tropics that I have taken at lights
> well after sunset are species known to be crepuscular or nocturnal (such
> as several genera of very large Pyrgine skippers).  So this encounter in
> Idaho with an annabella after I had been mothing for several hours, to me,
> suggests that the insect was active in the area, and was not simply
> disturbed by my lights from its nocturnal perch.  Interestingly, despite
> two days of intense butterfly collecting before and after May 27th at
> the same site failed to result in the sighting or capture of any
> additional annabellas.
> Then I remembered how on two occasions I have seen V. annabella extremely
> active just before sunset, when no other butterflies were observed (one in
> Douglas Co., COLO on June 13,1998- a male hilltoping literally just before
> sunset; and 5-VI-2000 just outside of The Dalles, Wasco Co., ORE- a female
> that never could be approached for a
> photograph (but was followed for several minutes- she would not stay
> still).
> Growing up in Greenwood Village, Colorado, I vividly remember Vanessa
> atalanta guarding territories on roof-tops in the neighborhood just before
> sunset- again when no other butterflies were active.
> Okay, those are the observations that make me think the Vanessas may have
> the ability to fly at night, at least during favorable conditions.  Does
> anyone have similar stories of crpuscular or nocturnal Vanessa encounters?
> Andy Warren
> On Fri, 11 Jan 2002, Kenelm Philip wrote:
> >
> > The _Vanessa atalanta_ (Red Admiral) northward flight this year
> > reached rather high latitudes:
> >
> > In Alaska, Jack Harry reported one specimen at mile 323 Dalton
> > Highway, 69 degrees N, on 2 July. A number of _atalanta_ were seen near
> > Haines, 59.25 degrees N.
> >
> > In Canada, William Davies found a single specimen on the sea ice
> > about 4 km off East Bay, Southampton Island (mouth of Hudson Bay), at
> > odd date of 21 May. Latitude was approx. 64 degrees N.
> >
> > Ken Philip
> > fnkwp at
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >  ------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >    For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>    For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list