A blog about what I love….photography and bicycles!

Genetic anomalies (mosaic gynandromorph butterfly)

A few weeks ago I was asked to view the butterfly collection of the late Robin Bennet of Hilton. His wife Pat is looking to move and wanting to sell the collection. I agreed to appraise the collection and assist in selling it.  I visited Pat and had a look through the collection housed is superb Watkins and Doncaster cabinets and, on opening the tenth drawer I came upon a mosaic gynandromorph Hypolimnas missippus. A gynandromorph is both male and female, a genetic anomaly, that exhibits the markings of both male and female. I understand that they are sterile.  Of interest is that sexual dimorphism in H missippus is marked, I have included images of both male and female below to demonstrate the difference. Finally we have the image of the mosaic gynandromorph.  (The male and female are not my images).

After the meeting and viewing I found out that Pat and her husband not only shared a love of butterflies with me but also a love of orchids, sadly a blog is not place for the discussions etc that followed.

Male H missippus, a mimic of Amauris ochlea 

And here we have the female. An amazing insect that mimics all seven known forms of its model, D chryssippus, the African Monarch.

And finally we have the Gynandromorph.  This thing is extremely rare.  occasionally you find a bilateral gynandromorph (male one side, female the other), and this is rare, a mosaic gynandromorph such as this is the “needle in a haystack”. In my twenty years of chasing insects I have never seen one. This was caught by Robin Bennet in Pietermariztburg in the 1960’s.   

I have to say that this insect, along with a few other significant specimens in the collection, is valuable and I sincerely hope that it ends up in a significant, protected, collection.

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