White Admiral: Northeastern segregate near ssp. rubrofasciata

Subject: White Admiral
Location: Perinton, NY
August 15, 2016 6:38 pm
Here are some pics of a beautiful White Admiral that was on the right-of-way behind our home. This has been an amazing summer for finding a variety of different butterflies, all on the right-of-way, which is allowed to grow wild each year (in late Fall, the power company that owns it cuts everything down, but allows it to grow untouched in the Spring and Summer!). My son took the pic of the butterfly on my phone, it decided to land there as I was attempting a close-up shot of it! Enjoy!
Signature: Jennifer

White Admiral
White Admiral

Wow Jennifer,
This really is a gorgeous White Admiral.  Where we grew up in Ohio, we only saw the southern subspecies, the Red Spotted Purple.

White Admiral and Bumble Bee
White Admiral and Bumble Bee

Hi again Jennifer,
Once we posted your images, we realized that there was much more red on your White Admiral than on the individual from Ontario that we linked to, and that your individual actually looked more like the Western White Admiral, the subspecies
Limenitis arthemis rubrofasciata that is described on BugGuide.  There is a fourth, but somewhat unclear division for the species.  Here is the explanation on BugGuide for this color variation:  “There has been resistance to calling these subspecies rubrofasciata, yet they look very much the same. They replace typical subspecies arthemis at high elevation in the northeast U.S. and northward in eastern Canada, and form an eastern end to a continuum of similar looking insects that occurs right across Canada, barely lapping into the U.S. An interpretation that is becoming more and more widely accepted is that these northern insects (east or west) represent the main population of “White Admirals”. What we call typical subpsecies arthemis actually represents the intermediates or a cline (= transition) between White Admirals and Red-spotted Purples. They have the white band, but they also have increased bluish/purplish reflective area above, and less orange/red on the hind wing both above and below.
Because of all the confusion and discussion that has occurred to date, the northern types from the east are separated (probably temporarily) here to make the comparisons easier to make. They will perhaps eventually be officially called subspecies rubrofasciata, but alternately may receive their own subspecies name. It is impossible to draw a line between east and west (here, rather arbitrarily it is Ontario and Minnesota east, and Manitoba and North Dakota West). The line to the south is somewhat arbitrary too, since the northern and more southern “types” blend into one another, but generally northern insects with prominent submarginal reddish coloring on the upper hind wing and more extensive orange below are included here. This also emphasizes the point that the transition from White Admiral and Red-spotted Purple involves more features than just the presence or absence of a white band. It starts well into the populations that have white bands, and extends southward well into populations that mostly lack white bands entirely.”

White Admiral
White Admiral

 

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