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928 Views 2 Replies Last post: Jul 27, 2013 12:12 PM by awillkey RSS
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Jul 26, 2013 10:33 PM

Surely this size difference is unusual?

Out walking today near Madrid I saw lots of Iberian Marbled Whites basking and feeding. But I was struck by a dwarf butterfly amongst the other normal sized specimens.


Here is what I consider the normal size butterfly


Normal IMW.jpg

and here (same focal length, same focus distance to allow immediate comparison) is the dwarf.


small IMW.jpg


I measured the wingspan as 70% of the bigger butterfly, making the wing area only 50%. I was under the impression that butterflies of the same species do not normally vary in size (though one of my guides does remark on a slight difference for one species - I forget which - between those in the far north of Europe and those in the far south). 


So is my preconception wrong or is this very unusual?



  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2013 6:53 AM (in response to awillkey)
    Re: Surely this size difference is unusual?



    Indeed, it is unusual in Melanargia lachesis.

    It is a type of abnormality that can affect any species of lepidoptera. I have seen it in ringlet and green-veined white, for instance (back in the UK in the 1970s).


    Lepidoptera have a whole array of abnormalities:

    - size (but smaller is much more common than larger)

    - gynandromorphy (I had a green-veined white bilateral gynandromorph - whose wings were male on one side, female on the other)

    - patterning


    Some folks get almost obsessed by aberrations and abnormalities.

    Percy Lathy wrote a series of publicaitons 'On some Aberrations of Lepidoptera' in the early 1900s,

    eg.  Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London, Vol.52, Issue.1, pp.65–70, April 1904




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