Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bilateral Gynandromorph

Equally rare, if not even more so than the elusive iole, a recently eclosed A.ilia bilateral gynandromorph. I thought I would share some pictures for you all to see and enjoy. A fantastic and interesting beast.

Some interesting and unexpected findings. Firstly looking at the pupal case, the male opening is clustered to one side (section IX), while the female genital opening is still contiguios through section VIII.

Although generally considered to be equally split down the middle, when looking close up at the business end of the actual specimen, we see that the male does actually have a complete pair of claspers, but both of these are clustered on one side of the abdomen and I fail to find any sign of a female opening.

Looking close up at the vestigial front brushes (which can be used to sex non-sexually dimorphic Nymphalidae species), it is excellent to see the presence of the extra tarsal segment (with claw) on the female side.

Thursday, September 7, 2017



Around mid-July there was some exciting news for Norfolk Naturalists with two sightings of Purple Emperor butterflies in Sheringham Park. These impressive butterflies have not been seen in Norfolk since they were resident in the early 1970s (apart from some recent infrequent sightings). Further to the Sheringham Park sightings a third sighting was made on Beeston Common, near Sheringham on 31st July. This site, which lies within a mile of the coast, is a mixture of habitats including heathland where the butterfly was seen.

Your dedicated website for the Purple Emperor states in its introduction ‘This is not an insect you will stumble upon, unless you are blessed with extraordinary luck.’ I believe I was extremely lucky as I literally stumbled upon a Purple Emperor on the ground.

This was a female, not the impressive iridescent purple male. The butterfly was on a path less than two metres ahead of me imbibing mineral salts from the soil. This was my first ever sighting and as I had missed out on an earlier Butterfly Conservation excursion to Fermyn Wood in Northamptonshire I was particularly happy to have found one on my local patch. Apart from moving around slightly while still imbibing the butterfly remained with its wings closed for about 20 minutes. Then there were a few tentative movements of its wings before finally the butterfly spread its wings, revealing its ‘eye-spots’, before taking off and ascending to around 10 metres after which, it glided some eight metres down to around three metres before flying off strongly to the south-west (the direction in which Sheringham Park lies). This last act was a great thrill – such an impressive insect.

One theory is that the recent Norfolk sightings are casual migrants, individuals from re-introduced Suffolk colonies that have done well in the last 10 years rather than deliberate releases of captive-bred stock.  Hopefully enough of these large and beautiful butterflies will arrive and start their own colonies in Norfolk woodlands.