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Butterfly Gallery: Beautiful Wings Take Flight

monarchs-thistle-110308-02

monarchs, monarch butterflies, monarch migration, endangered butterflies, Mississippi floods, texas drought, butterflies, butterfly migration, annual migration, monarch butterfly video

(Image credit: USFWS. )

Monarch butterflies adorn a thistle. The species is getting walloped by extreme weather.

Stunning creatures

Leopard lacewing butterfly gynandromorph

(Image credit: Nathan Brockman, Reiman Gardens)

Some creatures can't pick sides, like this half-male, half-female leopard lacewing butterfly. Dual-sex animals like this one, called gynandromorphs, are also found in birds and crustaceans. This butterfly emerged from its chrysalis at Iowa State University's Reiman Gardens in 2008. Half of its body is male, with a male's orange, black and white wing. The other half is female, with a female's paler wing.

One in 100,000+

Leopard lacewing butterfly gynandromorph

(Image credit: Nathan Brockman, Reiman Gardens)

In almost nine years, Reiman Gardens has received about 163,116 pupae to populate its butterfly wing. But this leopard lacewing is the only gynandromorph butterfly to ever emerge. Gynandromorphs likely go unnoticed in species in which males and females look alike, so it is difficult to estimate how frequently they occur.

A lucky find

Tiger swallowtail butterfly gynandromorph

(Image credit: James K. Adams, Professor of Biology, Dalton State College)

James Adams, a biology professor, found this gynandromorph tiger swallowtail at Pigeon Mountain in Georgia. But the location doesn’t really matter, he said: "You never go out to look for those because they are genetic anomalies. You happen upon them."

Blue morpho butterflies

Blue morpho butterflies

(Image credit: Photo Kayla Willis, courtesy Harvard Museum of Natural History, www.hmnh.harvard.edu)

The more brilliant blue male morpho butterfly is shown above, and the female below. Both are on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History to show the difference between males and females – called sexual dimorphism – in the same species of butterfly.

A literary bug

Blue morpho gynandromorph DO NOT REPUBLISH

(Image credit: Museum of Comparative Zoology, ©President & Fellows Harvard College, photo by Mark Sloan for Rarest of the Rare.)

The author Vladimir Nabokov was an unofficial curator of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) for Harvard's research collection, and, in his autobiography, he recounts losing a prized gynandromorph as a child when his governess sat on his collection: "… A precious gynandromorph, left side male, right side female, whose abdomen could not be traced and whose wings had come off, was lost forever: one might re-attach the wings, but one could not prove that all four belong to that headless thorax on its bent pin." Shown above is an unrelated gynandromorph blue morpho butterfly featured in "The Rarest of the Rare: Stories Behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History" (Harper-collins Publishers, 2004).

eastern tiger swallowtail

animals, insects, evolution, butterflies, speciation, new species, hybrid species, hybrid butterfly, tiger swallowtail, Appalachian tiger swallowtail, Canadian tiger swallowtail, Eastern tiger swallowtail,

(Image credit: Krushnamegh Kunte)

A yellow form of the female eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, here at Spruce Knob, W.Va.

Canadian tiger swallowtail

animals, insects, evolution, butterflies, speciation, new species, hybrid species, hybrid butterfly, tiger swallowtail, Appalachian tiger swallowtail, Canadian tiger swallowtail, Eastern tiger swallowtail,

(Image credit: Krushnamegh Kunte)

The Canadian tiger swallowtail butterfly is found in Canada and bordering areas of the United States.

Male Appalachian tiger

animals, insects, evolution, butterflies, speciation, new species, hybrid species, hybrid butterfly, tiger swallowtail, Appalachian tiger swallowtail, Canadian tiger swallowtail, Eastern tiger swallowtail,

(Image credit: Krushnamegh Kunte)

Male Appalachian tiger swallowtail feeding in Rhododendron flowers atop Spruce Knob, W.Va.

Pipevine swallowtail

animals, insects, evolution, butterflies, speciation, new species, hybrid species, hybrid butterfly, tiger swallowtail, Appalachian tiger swallowtail, Canadian tiger swallowtail, Eastern tiger swallowtail,

(Image credit: Krushnamegh Kunte)

Pipevine swallowtail butterfly in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.