Admirals – different coloured pupae

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  • #36019


    Hi all – I have just learned from an overseas list why there is a variation in colour of different pupae (of a non-NZ species) and figure it could be why Admiral pupae are a variety of colours.

    The theory is “Camouflage. The surroundings when they pupated had different colors or amount of light and so they pupated darker or lighter to blend in better with their surroundings.”

    That makes sense! It could also be why Admiral caterpillars are different shades I guess.


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  • #36260


    There is one Vanessa species I would love to get hold of and try breeding in captivity, although the chances are next to zero, due to it’s location and protection; and that is Vanessa Tameamea. Fascinating species that looks like all the Vanessa’s merged in to one with huge variations in the red colouring.





    Topic transferred from the heading “Forest Ringlets”

    The Yellow Admiral butterfly (Vanessa itea) is a constant species with no sub-speciation whether it is found in New Zealand, Australia or any of the other islands. Indeed the Yellow Admiral does not exist naturally in any other country apart from enthusiasts such as Terry from the U.K. who breed them, in which case they are not permitted to release them.
    Another species of Red Admiral ( Vanessa atalanta) does exist in countries in the northern hemisphere, but the New Zealand Red Admiral (Vanessa gonerilla gonerilla) and the Chatham Islands Red Admiral (Vanessa gonerilla ida), which have different markings, are endemic to these shores.



    I have also had the same results as Jane. The theory of the pupal colouring being affected by where on the plant the pupa is situated (light or dark) has been around for a while but I have not found it to be accurate. The gold coloured admiral pupae was explained as a light/dark cause, but I have had gold coloured pupae in the same pupal cage and conditions with brown and grey pupae.
    Eggs from the same female also differ, with a variation of 8, 9 and 10 ribs.
    More questions than answers it would appear.



    This topic is an interesting one for me Jacqui. I’ve often wondered why the larvae and pupae of Admirals differ so markedly. In captivity eggs from the same batch have resulted in larvae that look so different it is hard to believe they are the same species. I took close up photos of some from the same batch and at close range noticed that no two are the same!

    The larvae developed into pupae that were quite different in colour too, despite the background being the same. A number of Admiral pupate on the back wall of my house above a patch of urtica incisa, and they show differing colour variations on the same white wall. The resulting Admiral adults all seem identical.

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