Butterfly ID needed

Find, identify & discuss the insects of SANParks

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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Butterflies

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg »

Moira de Swardt wrote:At well over 800 butterfly species in South Africa it is well worth being able to identify them.

Any recommendations as to a good field guide for butterflies?


Moira de Swardt, consider:
Field Guide To Butterflies Of South Africa
Author(s): Steve Woodhall
Publisher: Struik
ISBN: 1868727246
Publication Date: 2005

@ Yolandé Oelsen, I agree with the butterfly ID. Maybe this is the start of yet another interesting passtime for you, Yolandé! :whistle:
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Karin Mitton
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Re: Butterfly ID needed

Unread post by Karin Mitton »

I am not sure my butterfly hobby is going to last long. So frustrating! I’ve paged through my book 5 times and cannot find anything resembling these -

This one was taken at Walter Sisulu. A copper/ opal?
4F3FA637-DF88-40B6-9298-6B1B3652DF1D.jpeg
Marj Atkins
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Re: Butterfly ID needed

Unread post by Marj Atkins »

Yea – but there are enough other diagnostic features (colours, spots, borders etc) that characterize each species that clearly aid identification in most cases - otherwise butterfly guides would be redundant.

For general interest:
Identification of a species by its genitals is a useful tool for accurately identifying closely related species. Today I believe they also use molecular analysis.
Male and female genitalia must fit together (like a lock and key) in order for effective mating to take place. Each butterfly species has genitalia that are unique in shape and form so it is one of the most reliable ways of establishing the identity of a species.

Butterflies that are affected by weather and climate changes, like those in the family Pieridae, have wet and dry season forms (wsf) and (dsf) that can differ so radically in colour that they look like different species. They caused much confusion in the early days and many were initially identified as different species (differences especially true of the females). I wouldn’t be surprised if they used this method to finally sort them out.

The gaudy commodore - Precis octavia sesamus (subfamily Nymphalinae) illustrates how radically different wsf and dsf forms can be.

Not very good specimens but they give the idea. They are actually stunning butterflies.

gaudy commodore dsf & wsf.jpg


Hope this isn't too much info!
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Karin Mitton
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Re: Butterfly ID needed

Unread post by Karin Mitton »

This one is completely confusing as it seems to have had a complete name change.
2020 edition of the Butterfly field guide - Brown Dodger (Afrogenenus letterstedti) male
2005 edition of the Butterfly field guide - Common Hottentot skipper (Gegenes nisa nisa)

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Marj Atkins
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Re: Butterfly ID needed

Unread post by Marj Atkins »

Oh boy Karen, you certainly know how to pick them!

Afrogegenes letterstedti (Brown Dodger) and Gegenes niso (Common Hottentot Skipper) are recognized as two different species but there appears to be some contention about this because they are remarkably similar. It has been suggested they be lumped together as Afrogegenes sp.

I would imagine the author of your field guide has been able to examine his specimen closely and has decided that it is the Brown Dodger not the Common Hottentot Skipper.

A beautiful macro shot Karen, but impossible to call for sure because the two species are so similar.

Regarding Belenois aurota:

B.aurota females have a much broader band (disco-cellular band) midway along the upper fore wing than the males. Females are yellow on the underside.

Your Wilderness specimen is an anomaly as is has a yellow underside(f) but has a narrow disco-cellular band like the male. I am not sure what it is. (Possibly a form of Belenois creona severina.)

I would go along with B. aurota for the others but this is based on an underside view only.

Hope this helps a bit. Enter the often impossible world of butterflies!

Marj
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Re: Butterfly ID needed

Unread post by Marj Atkins »

Pleasure Karen.

Although I would like to expand my statement regarding the skipper species so it is more accurate:

Afrogegenes letterstedti (Brown Dodger) and Gegenes niso (Common Hottentot Skipper) are recognized as two different species but there appears to be some contention about identifying them as one or the other because they are remarkably similar. It has been suggested they be lumped together as Afrogegenes sp. until the specimen can be properly examined and identified. (Probably by the genitalia lock and key method.)
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arks
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Re: Butterfly ID needed

Unread post by arks »

I think that this beauty is a moth, not a butterfly, but I've no idea what sort. Seen in Darling in late December 2022.

12SG22-31-5.jpg
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