Excerpts from A Guide to Nabokov’s Butterflies and Moths
by Dieter E. Zimmer
Hamburg (Germany) 1996

Except as otherwise noted, all butterfly illustrations are by William H. Howe, who generously allowed them to be reproduced here.

Butterflies and moths bearing Nabokov's name

Genera, species and subspecies named by Nabokov

(page 1 of 3)
(Accents added only to facilitate pronunciation)

Carterocéphalus canopunctátus NABOKOV 1941 [Hesperíidae]: a Skipper from eastern Tibet which Nabokov, in his first American butterfly paper (Lep3), recognized to be a distinct species. The specimen the OD is based on, originally from the firm of Staudinger & Bang-Haas, Nabokov found in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History when he examined a group of Asiatic members of the genus Carterocephalus LEDERER shortly after his arrival in the United States. Dorsally the wings are ”brownish black with small dull white spots.” The butterfly resembles Carterocephalus flavomaculátus OBERTHÜR. The name Nabokov chose literally means ‘the broad-headed one with hoary dots.’ The holotype is at the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Cyclárgus NABOKOV 1945 [Lycáenidae]: a new genus of Neotropical polyommatines which Nabokov (Lep9) split off the genus Hemiárgus HÜBNER 1818 on structural grounds. The type-species of Hemiargus is hánno STOLL 1790; as the type-species of Cyclargus Nabokov designated ámmon LUCAS 1857 (Lucas’s Blue), from Cuba. The three other species grouped in this genus in Lep9 were domínica MÖSCHLER 1886 (Jamaican Blue), from Jamaica, thomási CLENCH 1941 (Thomas’s Blue), from Florida, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, and woodrúffi COMSTOCK & HUNTINGTON 1943, from the Virgin Islands. In Lep13, Nabokov added a fifth species, Cyclargus erémbis (see under Cyclargus ammon erembis).
A number of lepidopterists have not accepted Nabokov’s genus. Though not formally demoting Cyclargus, Norman D. Riley, in his Field Guide to the Butterflies of the West Indies (London [Collins] 1975), treated it as a mere synonym of Hemiargus and accordingly listed Lucas’s Blue as Hemiargus ammon. However, a close morphological study by Johnson and Matusik has explicitly reinstated Cyclargus. They added two more species, both from Hispaniola, Cyclargus sorprésus K. JOHNSON & MATUSIK 1992 and Cyclargus kathléena JOHNSON & MATUSIK 1992. (Kurt Johnson / David Matusik: ”Additions to the Hispaniolan Fauna,” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin [Stevens Point], 23, 1992, p. 3–5.)
By splitting Cyclargus off Hemiargus, Nabokov had restricted this genus (Hemiargus HÜBNER sensu NABOKOV). The revalidation of Cyclargus confirmed this restriction.

Cyclárgus ámmon erémbis NABOKOV 1948 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine found along beaches and in sunny grassy areas of the Cayman islands. Nabokov had received a specimen from Oxford for examination. Formerly, it had been classed as Hemiárgus catilína BETHUNE-BAKER (or FABRICIUS). Nabokov (in Lep13) recognized that it belonged in his new genus Cyclargus, calling it Cyclargus erembis. Smith / Miller / Miller, in their book on The Butterflies of the West Indies and South Florida (1994), demoted it to subspecific rank, making it a local race of Cyclargus ammon LUCAS, the type-species of Cyclargus. Nabokov predicted that it would also be found on Cuba. The holotype is at the Natural History Museum in London. According to Johnson & Bálint, it is a good species (Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin [Stevens Point], 50, 1995).

Cyclargus erembis see under Cyclargus ammon erembis

Cyllópsis pertepída avícula NABOKOV 1942 [Satýridae], described by Nabokov under the name Neonympha dorothea avicula: a subspecies of the Warm Brown (Cyllopsis pertepida DYAR 1912) named by Nabokov in Lep5 (when he considered it a subspecies of Cyllópsis dorothéa). Avicula means ‘little bird.’ The holotype is at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.

left, female; right, male
wingspan 32 mm.

Cyllópsis pertepída dorothéa NABOKOV 1942 [Satýridae], described by Nabokov under the name Neonýmpha dorothea. In common parlance, dorothea has been called ‘Canyonland Satyr,’ ‘Dorothy’s Satyr,’ ‘Grand Canyon Brown’ and ‘Nabokov’s Wood Nymph.’ This was the first butterfly (sub-)species discovered by Nabokov in America; on June 9, 1941, in the Grand Canyon. ”… a charming middle-size butterfly that I discovered and named ten years ago in the Grand Canyon, a few minutes walk down the Bright Angel Trail.” Before Nabokov described his find as systematically distinct, this butterfly was lumped with Cyllopsis hensháwi W. H. EDWARDS, the ”Sonoran Satyr.” Nabokov chose the name in honor of Dorothy Leuthold, a woman from the New York Public Libary system the Nabokovs had met and who had kindly offered to drive them to Stanford, California (where he was to lecture) on their first cross-continental trip and who accidentally kicked up the insect when they set out to walk down the slushy trail on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon (Boyd VNAY, p. 28–29). In 1942, the generic name was still Neonympha HÜBNER, and this is the name under which it appears in Nabokov’s papers. Later it was changed to Euptýchia HÜBNER. Today dorothea and her like are grouped with the genus Cyllopsis FELDER. According to Nabokov, it was a genus neglected by entomologists since W. H. Edwards first described its Nearctic members. Nabokov described it thus: ”… delicately ornamented, quickly fading…, that so quaintly combine a boreal-alpine aspect with a tropical-silvan one, the upperside quiet velvet of ‘browns’ being accompanied by an almost Lycaenid glitter on the under surface.” In his paper on new or little known American members of the genus (Lep5), Nabokov argues that there are four species: Neonympha dorothea n.sp. (with the three new subspecies Neonympha dorothea dorothea, Neonympha dorothea edwárdsi and Neonympha dorothea avícula), Neonympha maníola n.sp., Neonympha henshawi W. H. EDWARDS and Neonympha pyrácmon BUTLER. Today dorothea is taken to be a subspecies of Cyllopsis pertepida DYAR 1912, the ‘Warm Brown.’ The holotype is at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. In Int1, Nabokov is hunting for it again. The range of all three satyrs (C. henshawi, C. pertepida, C. pyracmon) is Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico; C. pertepida extends north to Colorado and Utah, east to Texas.

Cyllópsis pertepída maníola NABOKOV 1942 [Satýridae], described by Nabokov under the name Neonýmpha maníola: a butterfly similar to Neonympha dorothéa NABOKOV (which today is Cyllopsis pertepída dorothea NABOKOV). Nabokov found in various collections and in Lep5 ”reluctantly” fixed it as a species of its own. The reluctance came from the fact that he had not come across any of its females. Shortly afterward, however, he found the missing females at the United States National Museum and reported his find in Lep6. It substantiated maniola’s claim to the status of a full species. Maniola is Latin and means ‘small evil spirits that frighten children.’ In lepidopterology, it was used since 1801 as a name for a genus (!) of satyrids, Maniola SCHRANK, the type-species being Maniola jurtína LINNAEUS, the Meadow Brown. The holotype is at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Echinargus isola REAKIRT 1866
type species of Echinargus NABOKOV 1945
left, male; right, female
wingspan 24 mm.

Echinárgus NABOKOV 1945 [Lycáenidae]: a new genus of Neotropical polyommatines named by Nabokov (Lep9). The type-species is Echinargus (formerly: Lycáena) ísola REAKIRT 1866, from Mexico. According to Lep9, there is only one other species, a new one from Trinidad which Nabokov did not name because he had learnt that W. P. Comstock of the American Museum of Natural History, New York, had already recognized it, and Nabokov did not want to interfere with his priority (Echinargus huntingtóni RINDGE & COMSTOCK 1953). In Lep10, he added a third one which before had been known as Lycáena mártha DOGNIN. Before Nabokov assigned the first two species to Echinargus, they were ranged with the genus Hemiárgus HÜBNER. The name given it by Nabokov means ‘the hedgehog-like Argus butterfly,’ perhaps because of the heavily dentated male genital sagum. According to Kurt Johnson and Zsolt Bálint, Echinargus is still a valid genus.

Icarícia NABOKOV 1944 [Lycáenidae]: a genus of Nearctic polyommatines named by Nabokov. It belongs to the Polyómmatus section of the tribe Polyommatíni and included five species: icarióides BOISDUVAL, ácmon DOUBLEDAY & HEWITSON, neuróna SKINNER, shásta W. H. EDWARDS and one undetermined one that seems to have been identified since as lupíni BOISDUVAL. The type-species is icarioides BOISDUVAL 1852, from ”the mountains of California.” According to the Catalogue/Checklist by Miller & Brown (1981), Icaria continued to be a valid genus, including the same five species, with twenty-one subspecies. In Zsolt Bálint’s forthcoming revision, it will disappear into Arícia R.L.



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