Results of his examination of divergence in sexual coloration of tropical American butterflies. [See Descent 1: 389 on Junonia and Papilio.]
Royal Geographical Society | 15, Whitehall Place, S.W.
March 12 1868
My dear M
I have again examined a few genera of Trop. American butterflies to ascertain the gradation in divergence of sexual coloration & give you the results as promised.
1— Junonia (including G. Precis of some authors) on re-examination I think the genus is better divided into three classes, instead of four, as I gave in former letter:
The majority of species in this large genus come under this class
1 Junonia Œnone— 2 J. Radama
3 Jun. clelia
1 Junonia Orithya
2 " Andremiaja
2. Æneas group of Papilio, slow-flying insects abounding in Tropical American forests & highly characteristic of the fauna
at least 4 species
at least a dozen species
—about a dozen species
Two or three species
3. Epicalia— same as described in my former letter to you. This genus illustrates the principle of females preserving a tolerably uniform type of coloration whilst the males, similar to females in some species, diverge diverge greatly in others.
I have found, however, a much better illustration of this in the genus Eubagis
4 Eubagis.— A very numerous genus abundant in Tropical America & peculiar to the fauna
Some species are alike in both sexes & their pattern is after the general type of the great group of butterflies to which the genus as well as Epicalia belongs, but in the majority of the species of Eubagis the males assume metallic colours & in some species reach a high degree of beauty, the females preserving the same plain colours. Curiously enough, in one or two species the female has a trace of metallic lustre!
I have noted a few more genera presenting similar phenomena but will not trouble you with them now, as I hope to show you them next Sunday morning.
The females of these butterflies cannot be called absolutely plain; it appears to me that in the gradual heightening of the male beauty through long ages of sexual selection the female sex has occasionally inherited some portion of the beautified colours & propagated them. I can show you cases where the male varies in ornamental colours & where selection is in all probability now going on; one case, in particular, is that of a most magnificent local variety of a common tropical American species.
I hope your health withstands the excitement of London, & that I shall see you on Sunday.
Yours sincerely | H W Bates
- f1 6007.f1No letter promising this information has been found.
- f2 6007.f2See letter from H. W. Bates, 29 March 1867 (Correspondence vol. 15). Junonia and Precis are related genera within the subfamily Nymphalinae of the family Nymphalidae, often referred to by the common name `pansies'. For more on changes in classification within the Nymphalinae, see Wahlberg et al. 2005.
- f3 6007.f3Junonia oenone is now the dark blue pansy; J. radama is a mistake for J. rhadama; J. clelia is now J. oenone.
- f4 6007.f4Junonia orithya, the blue pansy or blue argus, is now Precis orithya; J. andremiaja, the white (blue cast) banded pansy, is now Precis andremiaja (see Wahlberg et al. 2005). CD discussed colour in Junonia in Descent 1: 389.
- f5 6007.f5Bates refers to a group of butterfly species considered to be closely related to the species Papilio aeneas (now Parides aeneas). CD referred to the group in Descent 1: 389. See also n. 10, below.
- f6 6007.f6In Descent 1: 388, CD cited Bates in his discussion of Epicalia (now Catonephele).
- f7 6007.f7CD added the information on Eubagis (a synonym of Dynamine) to Descent 1: 389.
- f8 6007.f8In Descent 1: 391, CD expressed a similar view on female butterflies inheriting `some degree of beauty'.
- f9 6007.f9The genera Vanessa and Junonia were considered to be closely related in contemporary classifications of the family Nymphalidae (see Doubleday and Westwood 1846--52, 1: 198, 206). For current systematics, see Wahlberg et al. 2005.
- f10 6007.f10In a note dated 15 March 1868 (DAR 81: 22), CD discussed colour gradation in species of the `Aeneas Group'; he referred to the species Papilio sesostris and P. childrenae (now Parides sesostris and P. childrenae) and noted: `The males of P. sesostris varies & acquires a small crimson stripe on post. wing, & thus acquires a character common to its female & many females in common group.'
- f11 6007.f11CD's note on Epicalia in DAR 82: A39 reads: `In to the first Epicalia, in which both sexes follow general colouring of females of genus.— the male is a beautiful insect being glossed with blue, but yet not such gaudy & contrasted colours as the other males.'