Happy Friday, “bug buddies”! It’s time for another edition of Friday Flyers!!! This week we decided to feature a family of smaller size butterflies, the Pierids. But don’t let their smaller size get you down. The Pierid family includes some of the most beautiful and highly prized of all butterflies. Around here in Northern Illinois, the Pierid butterflies consist of a short list of the most common butterflies we’ve all seen, most often called the Sulphurs and the Whites. These are the small yellow and white butterflies that sometimes seem to be everywhere you look. The white butterflies are called Cabbage Butterflies, and they’re pretty uninteresting. The yellow butterflies are the Sulphur butterflies, and around here we have 4 or 5 species with 3 or 4 more as occasional strays from the south. The Cabbage Butterfly caterpillars eat a variety of plants including cabbage, as you might have guessed. Most of the Sulphur Butterfly caterpillars eat clover. The Sulphur butterflies are more interesting because they have some variability, including both yellow and white female forms, and various intermediate forms as well. So even though they’re relatively unimpressive, most collectors like to have many examples of the various forms.
Well ok, so why did we decide to feature Pierids anyway? Because this family is vastly more interesting in the tropical species. In South America, the Pierids expanded to hundreds of species, subspecies, and forms! Also, some of them evolved into larger sizes with wingspans over 3-inches. They also expanded their color range into black, orange, blue and brown. We assembled a small composite photo of some of the more interesting species that we saw in Ecuador. Each of these Pierid butterflies has a different preferred habitat, and some are relatively seasonal. You rarely see more than a few species in any one location, but you can almost always see some kind of Pierid wherever you look. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll see several of them landed at a mud puddle to sip the minerals from the water. At these times it’s easy to photograph them because they are totally occupied feeding.
So now that we have your interest, the most varied and colorful Pierids are from Southeast Asia and the island nations like Indonesia and the Philippines. The Pierids in this region have evolved into thousands of species, subspecies, and forms. In some species, every island has a different form – specifically evolved to its own island, and found nowhere else! The most prized of these “Oriental Region” Pierids are in the genus Delias. The Delias Pierids are undoubtedly the most spectacular. And even more interesting, most of the variation occurs on the ventral (underside) of the hind wings. For most, the dorsal (top side) of the butterflies are typically white or yellow with black markings---much like their plainer cousins from Illinois!!! It’s relatively unique in the butterfly world for a butterfly’s top surface to be less colorful than the bottom surface. Worldwide, there are many collectors who specialize only in Delias Pierids. And if they are truly dedicated collectors, they want to collect all of the subspecies and forms from every one of the remote islands. This is what makes their collections scientifically valuable and visually compelling.
In our Wonders Of Nature department, we have several beautifully framed examples of Pierid species, featuring Delias Pierids. The double frames each contain two Delias Pierids from Indonesia and Malaysia at $120. We also have some Peruvian Pierids in our collage frames. On your next visit to D & M Perlman, don’t miss seeing these incredibly beautiful butterflies! In the meantime, enjoy the photos we have posted, and be sure to check out our Friday Flyers album to see more pictures!! And don’t forget to “like” our Wonders Of Nature page, and be sure to “share” it with all your Facebook Friends. We’d love to share these photos with everyone! We’ll be working on our next Friday Flyers this week. If you have any questions about butterflies or have a butterfly that you’d like to see featured, be sure to let us know. We’re always looking for topics that will interest YOU!!!
Two frames from our store, featuring the colorful Pierid butterflies. They are $120 each.
The caterpillar of the Alfalfa Butterfly, the most common Pierid in our area! It feeds on clovers.
We discovered some previously undocumented forms of this rare Pierid butterfly while doing research in Ecuador!!
Small white Pierid butterflies sipping water from wet ground in the rainforest of Ecuador. We took this picture while on one of our research trips.
These are Pierid butterflies that we cataloged while on a research trip to Ecuador!