jccurd's picture

Indian/Macaronesian Red Admiral

Observed: 3rd March 2012 By: jccurdjccurd’s reputation in Invertebratesjccurd’s reputation in Invertebratesjccurd’s reputation in Invertebratesjccurd’s reputation in Invertebrates

Remember that feeling when you're looking at something familiar but it isn't quite right? That's exactly how I felt with this character in the Funchal botanic gardens on Madeira last week.
The name of this seems confusing being variously the Indian Red Admiral or Macronesian Red Admiral mixed with either Vanessa indica or Vanessa vulcanica. Since Madaeira is part of Macronesia and decidedly volcanic, I'll go with Macronesian Red Admiral (Vanessa vulcanica). Confusing or what?

Species interactions

No interactions present.


jccurd's picture

Interesting Lessons

It's amazing what you can learn from an interest in nature.

  1. Thanks to Michael Skelton's adjustment I now know that, whereas there is a Micronesia and many websites refer to Macronesia (seems logical - micro/macro), Macronesia is a common misspelling of Macaronesia - other than both deriving from Greek, the two correct terms seem unrelated.
  2. Since the iSpot database chose to mangle V. vulcania into V. vulcanica (I had it right on my photograph names), I'm now all at sea over what to trust concerning scientific/binomial names. I have books that need occasional correction by iSpot (courtesy of the following point) and iSpot that needs occasional correction by books.
  3. In fact, binomial names have recently become very devalued in my eyes. I chose to invest in a modern French butterfly book (having heard less than glowing reports of the latest incarnation of the Collins Field Guide). Not knowing French vernacular names for species, I thought I'd be able to cross-reference to an English guide using binomial names. Wrong! The first specimen I tried to do this with had a completely different genus level binomial name in the French publication. For enthusiasts, the main use of binomial names is to transcend language barriers ... but it doesn't work. The usual raison d'être for binomials on iSpot is "to link to related observations" but that gets foiled when a remote scientist decides that the binomial should change. Are historic observations changed accordingly? I suspect not. A Blue Tit is still a Blue Tit whether it's Parus caeruleus (former) or Cyanistes caeruleus (latest). Furthermore, the remote scientist just devalued everybody's book collection. ;-)
Michael Skelton's picture


Welcome to the world of butterfly taxonomy. It's a mare's nest of conflicting opinions, especially when it comes to generic names. I have a number of recent books dealing with European butterflies and no two of them agree on nomenclature. There has been much lumping of genera recently, largely based on the findings of molecular taxonomy, but ultimately all such decisions are based on subjective opinion, since it all depends on how much weight you choose to give to similarities and/or differences. How similar do species have to be for them to be placed in the same genus? There is no objective criterion. Opinions will always differ.