Butterflies of a Lunigiana Olive Grove – 5. Nothing is Black & White

Southern White Admiral, Limenitis reducta

Usually, on these butterfly pages, I feature four or five species but, today, I am dedicating a post entirely to the Southern White Admiral. There are two reasons for this: 1) the Southern White Admiral¬†is very graceful in flight but, at first glance, appears to be plain black and white, 2) in past years, they have been sparse in numbers and, because they enjoy feeding amongst the brambles, their wings get tattered quickly. This year we have bumper numbers in Lunigiana, so I’ve been able to get plenty of images of butterflies with intact wings.

When Southern White Admirals rest, you get the opportunity to see how even the black on the upper-side of their wings is actually an iridescent inky colour but it is the under-sides that are truly striking. In the images below, I have tried to show the progress from revealing only the upper-sides to displaying the full glory of the under-sides.

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The food plant of the larva is typically honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum but also L. caprifolium, L. xylosteum and Symphoricarpus racemosa. As there have been so many adults this season, I will attempt to find and photograph some of their interesting larvae and add them to this article.