Hall of Rarities and Weirdos

Welcome to the hall of rarities and weirdos!

While the biggest weirdo here may be me, the guy that obsessively has to play with insects, once in a while I come across species or specimens that HAVE to be documented, because they are just that different, awesome, rare or weird!

On my website, I also aim to fully record the full life cycle of the species I write caresheets about; that includes pictures of larvae and adults.  Obviously this does not always work, as some species fail to pair, don’t make it to adulthood, or I just didn’t intend to breed them.  This results in a lack of information that makes them unsuitable for my website, since my website is about breeding. However, because some pictures are just to awesome not to share on my website, I decided to make a “hall of fame”. Enjoy! This list will increase with time.

1. The white monarch

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This is a true rarity among raries. The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a pretty ubiquitous butterfly with a very large range from Central America up to Canada, migrating even to other parts of the world such as Australia and the Canary Islands. However, it seems that these butterflies can carry a very rare recessive trait that codes for a lack of orange. When expressed, the butterfly shows a stunning lack of orange!

I have been one of the few lucky people to have seen this happen in captivity. The specimen hatched behind the scenes in the tropical butterfy greenhouse, Amazonica, of Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands.

Even more interesting is that the recessive trait is in fact heritable, making it possible to selectively breed these rare white monarchs; I know of atleast a few lucky breeders that went as far as to breed a strain of white monarchs. Another interesting fact is that there has been a small timeframe in which these white monarchs have been unusually more frequent in Hawaii; it seems that in the more isolation population of butterflies on Hawaii, this trait was established more widely, resulting in a surge of white monarchs. For this reason, many people still refer to white monarchs as “Hawaiian” monarchs.

While it is true that the trait  has been more common than it is in other parts of the world in Hawaii, this seems to have been a temporary event, and observations suggest the frequency of this phenotype is decreasing in Hawaii. The white monarch is a true rarity anywhere in the world – even in Hawaii – and may occur anywhere, due to a mutation or recessive gene.

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2. Golden Automeris io female

Automeris io is one of the more common Saturniidae species of North America and one that I have bred many times. While there are a few known subspecies with different colours, there is otherwise not much variation in these moths. The males are smaller and yellow, while the females are bigger and have brown forewings instead of yellow.

Automeris io; normal male and female

Imagine my suprise when a female hatched, that had a lot of yellow hairs on her body! I checked her for signs of gynandromorphism, but it seems she was just a regular female, except that her genes seemed to expres the trait of yellow hair, a trait that is usually male in Automeris io. These natural curiosities happen in captivity once in a blue moon.

Automeris io female, I have dubbed her the “golden female”

Also interesting is the fact that she seemed much hairier than the “regular” females, I theorise this is because her yellow hairs seemed to be additional hairs that were added to her already brown coat, giving her a “golden” look and making her extra hairy. In the image you can see her legs are also abnormally hairy.

 

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The aim of this website is to provide information about many species of moths and butterflies around the world, with a slight focus on rearing them in captivity.

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