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'Spring in the Western Canaries' tour turns up 18 species of butterflies...

Teresa Farino
20/03/2015 08:20:04

...including the first ever American Painted Lady to be recorded on one of Teresa's wildlife trips.

Posted in: Butterflies and Moths, Endangered Wildlife and Habitats | Canary Islands | Spanish Islands


American Painted Lady - Vanessa virginiensis2 © Teresa FarinoAmerican Painted Lady Vanessa virginiensis© Teresa FarinoTeresa's recent week-long trip to the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera, co-led by Jeff Clarke, gave us all a real treat in the form of an American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) near Icod de los Vinos (north-west Tenerife) on 6 March. As its name suggests, this species occurs primarily in North and Central America, but occasionally reaches Western Europe (principally Spain and Portugal) on migration, although - curiously - not North Africa.

Tenerife is the principal island in the Canary archipelago where the American Painted Lady has been regularly and recently recorded, although the supposedly resident populations in the north of the island became extinct in the 1970s, and these days it is almost certainly a transitory species. It has also been recorded on La Gomera and La Palma this century.

The American Painted Lady can be distinguished from the more commonplace and widespread Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) by the two enormous 'eyes' on the under hindwing, which are reflected by a line of distinctly blue-centred ocelli on the upper American Painted Lady - Vanessa virginiensis. © Teresa FarinoAmerican Painted Lady Vanessa virginiensis© Teresa Farinohindwing. It is also slightly smaller, and has more sculpted forewings, which are red, rather than orange, beneath. It was one of 18 species of butterfly seen during the week, which gets our Butterfly Conservation donation scheme off to a fine start, raising the first £54.

The other Canary endemic species we recorded during the trip were Canary Speckled Wood (Pararge xiphoides), Canary Red Admiral (Vanessa vulcania), both Canary and La Gomera Brimstones (Gonepteryx cleobule & G. eversi) and Canary Islands Large White (Pieris cherianthi cheiranthi), but sadly we missed out on Canary Blue (Cyclirius webbianus ) this year, on account of the road to the Teno península being definitively closed.

To this fine selection we also added more widespread but no less attractive lycanids such as Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and African Grass Blue (Zizeeria knysna); the nymphalids Plain Tiger and Monarch (Danaus chrysippus & D. plexippus), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Red Admiral and Painted Lady (Vanessa atalanta and V. cardui), and the pierids Small White and Bath White (Pieris rapae & Pontia daplidice), as well as myriad Clouded Yellows (Colias crocea).


Bath White - Pontia daplidice © Teresa FarinoBath White Pontia daplidice© Teresa Farino Spanish Brown Argus - Aricia cramera. © Teresa FarinoSpanish Brown Argus Aricia cramera© Teresa Farino











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