Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bronx Zoo Butterflies - The Queen Danaus gilippus

Well as a sort of tribute to all the butterflies I saw at the Bronx Zoo yesterday I'm doing an entry on all of the ones I was able to ID. Some of them have been mentioned before, yes but so what? ^.^ While on the search for info I came across some of my own in a sense.

Apparently there are a number of subspecies and species that are quite similar ( this I already knew ) to Danaus gilippus. IMO the subspecies could just be called variations of the butterfly because I honestly don't see that much of a noticeable difference.

But maybe I'm just blind? It's been known for me to overlook things that are staring me in the face I admit.....*blush* However this IMO deserves mention. Don't you think?

Now how that happened.....I haven't a clue.

Secondly a BIG taxonomic change apparently happened in the past. I was apparently stupid for thinking that when pretty much all of the Danaid (sp?) butterflies were discovered they were placed in the genus Danaus that was immediately thought up by whoever discovered them.

Pssh yeah right. No. Back way back when Your Majesty was known as Papilio gilippus. Oh Ho! cue the backlash. No honey there's proof. When I was searching for info on these I came across this site that mentions 2 of the many subspecies.

On the page that mentions Danaus gilippus berenice on the very bottom it clearly mentions this ( note I'm quoting just what's necessary ):

Genus Danaus Kluk, 1780

Zwierz. Hist. Nat. Pocz. Gospod. 4: 83-86, no. 145. Type-species: Papilio plexippus Linnaeus, 1758, Syst. Nat. (ed. 10) 1: 471, no. 80, by designation of Hemming (1933), Entomol. 66(845): 222. I.C.Z.N. Opinion 278 placed this name on the Official List of Generic Names in Zoology as name no. 699.

Danaus gilippus (Cramer, 1775)

Uitl. Kapellen 1(3): 41, pl. 26, figs. E ♀ D, F ♀ V; (8): 153 (index).

Original Combination: Pap[ilio]. Dan[aus] festiv[us]. Gilippus

Type Locality: “Rio de Janeyro...Brazil” “Rio Janéiro...Côte du Brasil”

Types: Type(s) probably lost.

Well let me tell you my jaw dropped when I read this. As you know ( or don't you? :P ) butterflies placed in the genus Papilio are Swallowtails.

Now where the big leap came from I have no idea. How did it get from the genus Papilio to the genus Danaus? And were they any other synonyms in between?

Gah! So many questions! >_<

Anyway I suppose I get on with the info then huh? I've done enough rambling for you. The first is bits and pieces from Wikipedia.

Once again Idk how reliable this is so I suggest you do your own research.

The Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) is a North and South American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae (the brush-foots) with a wingspan of 2.75–3.25" (70–88mm). It is orange or brown with black wing borders and small white forewing spots on its dorsal wing surface, and reddish ventral wing surface fairly similar to the dorsal surface. The ventral hindwings have black veins and small white spots in a black border. The male has a black androconial scent patch on its dorsal hindwings.

This species is possibly a close relative to the similarly-colored Soldier Butterfly (or "Tropic Queen"; Danaus eresimus); in any case, it is not close to the Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) as was long believed. There are about 10 recognized subspecies (Smith et al. 2005). As with other North American Danaus species, it is involved in Müllerian mimicry with the Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) where the two co-occur.

Fascinating I tell you. Honestly I need a really really good book on butterflies and their life cycles and any other interesting behavioral habits they have.

They are wonderful......beyond wonderful even. More info here.

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