Friday, October 29, 2010

How many legs does a butterfly have?

How many legs does a butterfly have? Check it out. (You can select a picture to enlarge it for better inspection.)

Cabbage White

Clouded Sulphur

Male tiger swallowtail

Female Peck's skipper

These butterflies (well, (technically a skipper is not a true butterfly, but it's still in the order Lepidoptera) clearly have six. Duh, right? They’re insects.

But what about these guys?


Common Buckeye

Red-spotted purple (southern colormorph of the White Admiral

Red Admiral

The first is, of course, a monarch, and the last three are all brushfoots. They seem to have four!

Brushfoots have vestigial forelegs, and monarchs have slightly larger ones, but still small and kept tucked up near their heads.

Cool, huh? And startlingly obvious when you look at them - really look, that is. Yet somehow I managed to make it through more than half a century without noticing...

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At 1:31 PM, July 25, 2012 Blogger Thunderpen had this to say...

Great photographs. You say they have six legs, as they should, but for the life of me I cannot see the small legs up near the head. I think "maybe I can see them" but I am not sure. Still, thank you for your writing here.

At 12:34 AM, July 27, 2012 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Yeah, only the monarch's are at all visible to me. The others are too vestigial to make out.


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