Currently viewing the category: "Nabokov"

what immature insect has no pupal stage? it was something that starts with an N and it was made popular by Nabokov?

Amateur entomologist Vladimir Nabokov created a new word for the English lexicon when he wrote the earth shattering novel Lolita. Entomologically as well as Etomologically, the term Nymph refers to the immature phase of an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis. The Nymph looks much like the adult, but often without wings and mature coloration. Nabokov coined the term Nymphette to describe the pubescent Lolita in his novel with the same name.

Blue (Subfamily Polyommatinae) Butterfly Indentifcation Help
Hello to the Bugman and friends,
I took this picture about a year ago. I believe it is a member of the Gossamer Wing Butterflies (Family Lycaenidae), specifically of the Blues (Subfamily Polyommatinae). I am unsure of the species though. If it helps to narrow down specific species, this picture was taken in Bellingham, Washington. I saw a posting about similar species on your wonderful website already, but the picture was of a newly hatched specimen. Hopefully my attached picture would be of some help. Thank you for the help.

Hi Jonathan,
What a beautiful photo. We believe this is a female Spring Azure, Celastrina ladon, but the Blues are very difficult for us to distinguish from one another. It might take a genius like Vladimir Nabokov to disect their tiny genitalia to be certain.

ID help
I just recently purchased your calendar for 2006, and the timing couldn’t have been better because now I know where to turn with my rather surprising discovery that a couple of plants in my yard have some visitors. They are green and black striped caterpillars with some white dots, as you can see. There must be about 10 of them on the one plant. I pulled one off for a close-up photo, and he rolled up. They don’t seem to have eaten much of the plant (yet?), but somebody has been eating the purple sage nearby. I assume they’re going to turn into lovely butterflies, so I’m inclined to leave them where they are. But if they pose a problem for the surrounding fruit trees (fig, orange) or vegetables in the backyard, then I might not take as kindly to them. Who are these guys, and what if anything should I do with them? Thanks for your help,
Peter in L.A.

Hi Peter,
We are thrilled you are enjoying your calendar. According to a photo in our Hogue book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, this is a Virginia Lady Caterpillar, Vanessa virginiensis, and according to Hogue: “it is scarce in the basin in comparison to either of the other two species. There are at least three members of the genus Vanessa, known as Ladies, and the Painted Lady and West Coast Lady are the two more common species. The Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui is probably the most well known since it is prone to mass migrations. I have seen hundreds of Painted Ladies on sunny spring days in the desert. The caterpillar food preferences of all three species are similar, and include Hollyhocks, Cheeseweed (Malva parviflora) a common weed found in vacant lots, thistles, and nettles. They will not harm your fruit trees. A fourth member of the genus is known as the Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, and was a favorite butterfly of Vladimir Nabokov. Leave the caterpillars be and nature will take its course.

a strange bug from central australia
Hi Bugman,
We found this funny looking creature at our chook shed this morning. I thought it looked like Darth Vader! It has a very orange upper abdomen which it flashes when beating wings. It also has hairy and very long legs. It was about 5cm long. It has a proboscus like a cicada… My girlfriend thinks its a cicada…I think it’s a Star Wars character..! Help
Jay and Ada – Alice Springs, Australia

Hi Jay and Ada,
This swift flying predator is a Robber Fly. By the way, one of our favorite books is Ada by Vladimir Nabokov and it has hundreds of insect references.

Moth or Butterfly on Butterfly Weed
I went up to the farm Missouri) with my husband and found this insect on a butterfly weed plant. I was wondering what sort of insect this is? I like it black and white face and antenna. Thanks Mary There are actually two insects here ( mating?) but this photo is the clearest of the actual insect.
Jackie and Mary

Dear Jackie and Mary
Your butterfly is a member of the Gossamer Winged Butterflies in the Family Lycaenidae, more specifically one of the Blues in the Subfamily Polyommatinae. We are guessing either the genus Plebejus or Lycaeides. There is much variation in coloration in local populations within the same species. Most larvae feed on legumes including lupines, rattleweed and clover. The Lycaean Blues are the group of butterflies that fascinated the great author Vladimir Nabokov.

Thanks Thank you for your quick reply and the information about the identification of the butterfly and the information about the author. I have just started in photography and have found that now I am becoming very interested in the names of insects and wildflowers. I did find a pretty clear photo that shows the other butterfly. Thanks again

Your photos are very nice Mary, We surely appreciate the latest romantic image. Is it any wonder the author of Lolita was so besmitten with these lovely creatures?

Ed. Note: We just received the following correction.
misIDed pictures Hi, I love the pictures on your site, I noticed a couple of mistakes in the identification of two pictures. It is a Lycaenid, however the species is definitely Harkenclenus titus, the Coral Hairstreak, which is a beautiful tailless hairstreak, and is quite uncommon in my experience.

I was wondering what the bug showed in the pictures is called. We found it on a nettle (Palude Brabbia Inarzo – Varese – Italy) Thanks a lot,

Hi Alessandro,
Most butterflies in the genus Vanessa, including Painted Ladies and Red Admirals (or Red Admirables according to Nabokov), have spiny caterpillars that feed on nettles. Your caterpillar is one of the Vanessa species.