Sleepy Orange butterfly
I have a question concerning the wing structure on a Sleepy Orange butterfly. I am sending you 3 photos for consideration. I took some photos of a Sleepy Orange several weeks ago and notice that a little piece was missing from the end of it’s hind wing. I didn’t think too much about it at the time because I thought the little bit of yellow showing through was the color of the fore wing. I don’t think this is the case at all. Not until I recently photographed another Sleepy Orange and looked closely at the picture did I begin to question whether or not the hind wing was a two-layer wing. The second picture shows, what looks like a separating of the hind wing in little layers like old paint flaking off, revealing the layer underneath. What do you think? Is this wing perhaps a two layer laminate wing (if that’s the right way to describe it). When I went back to look at the older folders more closely, I notice in the 3rd picture a little piece of wing sticking out from the side. That’s where the little piece was missing. It would be interesting to know about the hind wing being a dual layer. Wonder if you peeled away the top layer would it reveal a bright yellow wing underneath the outer layer? It would be interesting to know. I have never notice this separating of the wing before. It looks too that it separated right where the little brown markings are on the hind wing. Maybe this is not what you do. Maybe you just identify them. If you accept the challenge of finding out, will you let me know? I would greatly appreciate it. Curious,
Patrick Crone

Hi Patrick,
While your theory is fascinating, it is not the case. All Lepidopterans, butterflies and moths, have scales on their membraneous wings. The phenomenon you observed is a damaged wing with a missing and or partially detached portion, and the coloration of the upper surface showing when the wings are closed. By the way, we are thrilled to have your images of the Sleepy Orange, Abaeis nicippe.

(10/20/2007) Another question about Sleepy Orange
I have another question about the Sleepy Orange butterfly. I was determined to get a shot of the wings open on the Sleepy Orange, Abaeis nicippe. I am really confused and need your help. Sleepy Oranges are hard to catch with their wings spread out so you can see the inside color of the wings. I have been trying really hard to get a shot when it flies away. After many tries, I managed to get a small glimpse of one as seen in the first photo. Today I was taking pictures of a Sleepy Orange and stayed with it to see if I could get a better shot of the wings open as it flew away to the next flower. I got a better shot of the whole wings and noticed the black border was different on this one. What’s going on? Is there a difference between the male and female? Which is which? The outside of both are the same though. Please help me. Just when I think I am understanding what’s right, I get thrown another curve ball. I’d really appreciate your help. Confused,
Patrick Crone

Hi again Patrick,
Our reference book, Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West by Jeffrey Glassberg, indicates that there is seasonal variablity in the Sleepy Orange. Additionally, there is often much variation between individual specimens. You might try to contact your nearest natural history museum to see if you can view their Sleepy Orange specimens to get some idea of the individual variation. We are not sure if there is an easy way to distinguish the sexes from one another. BugGuide does have an image posted that is identified as a male and female, and there is a difference in their wing markings similar to the difference your photograph indicates.

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