What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Nymphalis sp. From Iran
Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 9:30 AM
Hi… I found this worn piece of beauty on the first days of spring in Tehran, Iran… It was flying elegantly over the river and sometimes sipping sap from willow barks…I’m doubtful between Nymphalis polychloros and N. xanthomelas… There are a lot of Salix. spp plants there… Do you have any idea how can I find its eggs/larvae?
Thanks a lot…
Mohsen Arooni,
Tehran, Iran…

Tortoiseshell from iran

Yellow Legged Tortoiseshell fromIran

Hi Mohsen,
We don’t get many submissions from Iran, so we are very happy to have received your butterfly image. Here in the U.S., butterflies in the genus Nymphalis with markings similar to your specimen are known as Tortoiseshell Butterflies. Another relative in the genus with distinctively different markings is the Mourning Cloak, known as the Camberwell Beauty in England. Nymphalis species often hibernate as adults, emerging with the first warm spring days. Willow is a common food plant for North American members of the genus, and we suspect that the same may be true for the Iranian species. Search for the spiny caterpillars on the willow leaves.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

8 Responses to Yellow Legged Tortoiseshell from Iran

  1. mohsen says:

    Thanks a lot for your reply… After examining images from the useful website “Butterflies and moths of Europe and North Africa” I discovered that its actually Nymphalis xanthomelas, or “The Yellow legged Tortoiseshell”…
    Yours: Mohsen Arooni, Tehran, Iran…

  2. Susan J. Hewitt says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I believe that this is the Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, which is common in Europe, but which also occurs all the way across Asia.

    Assuming I am correct about the species, the caterpillars feed on the common stinging nettle Urtica dioica and the small nettle <U. urens.

    The butterflies overwinter, often in houses or other buildings, and then come out in the spring, looking a bit worse for wear.

    Mohsen may not start to see caterpillars for a while, because the butterflies need to mate, lay eggs and the eggs hatch and grow a bit before the darkish, somewhat hairy caterpillars are noticeable on beds of nettles.

    I used to raise these butterflies myself when I still lived in England. It’s not easy picking stinging nettles every day for the caterpillars to eat. I used to use a plastic bag as a glove!

    Best wishes, Susan J. Hewitt

  3. Susan J. Hewitt says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I believe that this is the Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, which is common in Europe, but which also occurs all the way across Asia.

    Assuming I am correct about the species, the caterpillars feed on the common stinging nettle Urtica dioica and the small nettle U. urens.

    The butterflies overwinter, often in houses or other buildings, and then come out in the spring, looking a bit worse for wear.

    Mohsen may not start to see caterpillars for a while, because the butterflies need to mate, lay eggs and the eggs hatch and grow a bit before the darkish, somewhat hairy caterpillars are noticeable on beds of nettles.

    I used to raise these butterflies myself when I still lived in England. It’s not easy picking stinging nettles every day for the caterpillars to eat. I used to use a plastic bag as a glove!

    Best wishes, Susan J. Hewitt

  4. mohsen says:

    Hi Susan…
    These are very similar and I’ve raised the small tortoiseshell too!… Ouch!…
    This one has a larger wingspan… Also, it has more spots on the forewing… Plus, there are no blue spots on the forewing margins…
    Thanks for sharing your experiences…

  5. mohsen says:

    Dear Bugman…
    I can’t consider your reply as a scientific answer… I speak persian and common names like “Tortoiseshell” are not useful here… So perhaps knowing the scientific name (international standards) might be more helpful…?

  6. bugman says:

    Dear Mohsen,
    With all due respect, we realize our response to you was unscientific, because the fact of the matter is, we are not scientists. We have proudly announced on our website on numerous occasions that we are artists with no scientific backgrounds. While we try our best to properly identify submissions sent to us, the fact of the matter is that counting tarsi, dissecting butterfly genitalia (a skill that our favorite author Vladimir Nabokov possessed) and plotting wing veinage is well beyond the scope of our skills. Even within the scientific community, we find that experts in Crane Flies (Family Tipulidae) are often not much help when a person is trying to identify an Assassin Bug (Family Reduviidae) because in our 21st Century world, we have specialists with a narrow scope of expertise. Our website mission, and perhaps we should post our Mission Statement on our website, is “to assist the average person in developing an appreciation of the lower beasts, while doing what we can to correctly identify the family, genus, and occasionally the species of photos submitted to our site.” Sometimes it is not even possible for us to identify the family, and the order will have to suffice. Many of the Mites submitted to our site were merely identified as Mites before an Acarologist assisted us with the proper identifications. While we are sorry that you were disappointed in our unscientific answer, we did what we could, and it seems as though Susan came to your rescue with several possibilities for the proper species.

  7. mohsen says:

    Dear Bugman…
    Forgive me.. I should have read the “About WTB”… Now I realize that we are all students… Learning from each other…
    After reading some books, I’m sure this butterfly is N. xanthomelas…
    Thanks for your informative reply…
    Yours… Mohsen Arooni
    Tehran, Iran…

  8. bugman says:

    Thanks for writing back Mohsen,
    Your letter has prompted us to try to concisely develop our mission statement, and we would also like to add that we promote a global community of tolerance.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Daniel

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