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 with "Nabokovian" names

For decades, nobody had given a close systematicist’s look at the polyommatine lycaenids of the South American fauna zone--the Neotropical Plebejinae, as Nabokov had called them, or the South American blues in common parlance since Nabokov’s review of the group in 1945 (Lep9). In the early nineties, interest arose. In Italy, a Torino entomologist, Dr. Emilio Balletto, published a paper on them in February, 1993 (”One some new genus-group and species-group names of Andean Polyommatini,” Bolletino della Società entomologica italiana [Genova], 124 [3], p. 221–243). Not quite a month later, there followed a paper from Zsolt Bálint, a Hungarian researcher who had made a systematic study Neotropical polyommatines in European museum collections (”A Catalogue of Polyommatine Lycaenidae [Lepidoptera] of the Xeromontane Oreal biome in the Neotropics As Represented in European Collections,” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 29, 1993, p. 1–42). At about the same time, an American entomologist, Dr. Kurt Johnson of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, interrupted his research on the American Hairstreaks (Theclínae) to examine the blues (Polyommatínae) he had been sent and teamed up with Bálint to produce a long series of papers which, when finished, will add up to a thorough revision of the South American members of this group. In the course of their ongoing study they came across a number of new species, either taken in the field or found in museums. These had to be given names. To honor Nabokov’s pioneering work in this group, they chose to give some of them ”Nabokovian” names (see under Pseudolucia whitakeri). By the end of 1995, there were twenty-six such species. Four of these names were rendered invalid by Balletto’s previous publication, leaving twenty-two. More are to come. The Vladimir Nabokov Society in 1995 set up a board of scholars to suggest new names.

The Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), nos. 43 through 54, were issued as a book (Neotropical ”Blue” Butterflies) in December 1995.

Itylos luzhin BÁLINT March 1993 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly known only from one locality in Peru, at an altitude of 3600–4000 m. Only its males have been examined. They are dark blue with a suffused black margin. Their forewing length is 8–9 mm. OD (original desription): Zsolt Bálint: ”A Catalogue of Polyommatine Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera) of the Xeromontane Oreal biome in the Neotropics As Represented in European Collections,” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 29, 1993, p. 13. The name proved to be a slightly newer synonym of Ityloides fumosus BALLETTO February 1993 and thus for reasons of priority is invalid. The generic name Ityloides in turn proved to be a synonym of Itylos as revised by Zsolt Bálint and Kurt Johnson (”Polyommatine lycaenids of the oreal biome in the Neotropics, part ii: The Itylos section (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae, Polyommatinae),” Annales historico-naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici (Budapest), 86, 1994, p. 59–60), so the correct name of this insect that was meant to commemorate Nabokov’s unfortunate chess-player now is Itylos fumosus.

Itylos pnin BÁLINT 1993 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly of which only one specimen (male) had been collected at the time of its OD (between Lima and Chosica in west Peru). Later Gerardo Lamas located its female. The male is luminous blue with a wide suffused black margin. The forewing length is 8 mm. It is named for Nabokov’s Professor Pnin. OD: Zsolt Bálint: ”A Catalogue of Polyommatine Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera) of the Xeromontane Oreal biome in the Neotropics As Represented in European Collections,” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 29, 1993, p. 13–14. Bálint, Zsolt / Kurt Johnson: ”Polyommatine lycaenids of the oreal biome in the Neotropics, part ii: The Itylos section (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae, Polyommatinae),” Annales historico-naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici (Budapest), 86, 1994, p. 58–59. (Drawing by Zsolt Bálint.)

Leptotes delalande BÁLINT & JOHNSON 1995 [Lycaenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly known only from the type locality in Ecuador where it was collected in 1897. The males are pale gentian blue, with a black margin and fringes. The females are blue, with a wide outer marginal brown area. The forewing length is 12–13 mm. It is named for Nabokov’s invented philosopher in Invitation to a Beheading, ”here reflecting the sister relationship of this new species with Leptotes lamasi.” OD: Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Species Diagnostiocs of the Genus Leptotes in Continental South America (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae),” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 44, 1995, p. 18.

Leptotes krug BÁLINT, JOHNSON, SALAZAR & VELEZ 1995 [Lycaenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly known only from the remote type locality, the Volcán Galeras in Colombia (3500 m) where it was collected in 1994 by Salazar. It had been known before as a divergent form of Leptotes andicola GODMAN & SALVIN. Only its males have been examined. They are iridiscent violet blue, brighter than L. andicola. The forewing length is 12 mm. It is named (at the suggestion of Dieter E. Zimmer) for the unfortunate professor of Bend Sinister and for Nabokov’s story ”The Circle” (krug in Russian); therefore it is ‘krug’ and not ‘krugi’ and should be pronounced ‘croog.’ ”The name is extremely apt for a species of Leptotes because... ventral maculation in this genus includes circles or ellipses of white which enclose patches of brown ground color.” OD: Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Species Diagnostiocs of the Genus Leptotes In Continental South America (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae),” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 44, 1995, p. 7–8.

Madeleinea cobaltana BÁLINT & LAMAS 1994 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly from the Peruvian high Andes. The males are cobalt blue with a strong metallic shade. The forewing length is 11 mm. Named for Kobalt, the Zemblan mountain resort in Pale Fire. OD: Zsolt Bálint / Gerardo Lamas: ”Polyommatine Lycaenids of the Oreal Biome in the Neotropics, Part iii: Descriptions of Three New Species (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae),” Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungariae (Budapest), 40 (2), 1994, p. 232–240.

Madeleinea lolita BÁLINT 1993 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly known from just one locality in Peru’s Amazonas department (Huambo). Only its males have been examined. They are ”blackish brown with iridiscent metallic blue basal and medial diffusion.” The forewing length is 10 mm. ”Named for ‘Lolita,’ the nickname of Nabokov’s best-known character.” OD: Zsolt Bálint: ”A Catalogue of Polyommatine Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera) of the Xeromontane Oreal biome in the Neotropics As Represented in European Collections,” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 29, 1993, p. 24–25.

Madeleinea mashenka BÁLINT 1993 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly known only from two localities in central Peru. Only its males have been examined. They are metallic green with a narrow black margin. The forewing length is 10 mm. The names derives from the title of Nabokov’s first Russian novel, Mashenka/Mary. OD: Zsolt Bálint: ”A Catalogue of Polyommatine Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera) of the Xeromontane Oreal biome in the Neotropics As Represented in European Collections,” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 29, 1993, p. 27–28. As the holotype specimen which Bálint found in the British Museum of Natural History had lost its abdomen, no dissection of the genitalia was possible. Bálint described it in the genus Madeleinea because of its silvery ventral hindwing pattern. Later, Gerardo Lamas located a further male specimen. When its genitalia were inspected, it turned out that mashenka is no Madeleinea but an Itylos with a wing pattern unique in the genus (Bálint & Lamas, in preparation). So in the future this butterfly will be Itylos mashenka.

Madeleinea nodo BÁLINT & JOHNSON 1994 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly known only from the Andes of Ecuador, at high elevation (2700–3600 m). The males are unicolourous flame blue, the females are chocolate brown. The forewing length is 8.5 mm. ”Named for Nodo [in Pale Fire], half-brother of Odon, signifying the sister relationship with M. odon and the fact that, of the two, ‘Nodo’ occurs geographically to the [no]rth.” OD (inadvertently): Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Polyommatine Lycaenids of the Oreal Biome in the Neotropics, part iv: Description of a new Madeleinea (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) Species from Ecuador,” Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungariae (Budapest), 41 (1), 1995, p. 25–34. The OD was followed up by a more detailed treatment in: Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Synopsis of the High Andean and Austral Polyommatine Genus Madeleinea BÁLINT 1993 (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae),” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 43, 1995, p. 6–7.

Madeleinea odon BÁLINT & JOHNSON 1994 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly described from the high Andes of Ecuador. The males are unicolourous imperial blue, the females are markedly smaller and brown. The forewing length is 10 mm. Named for Odon of Pale Fire, half-brother of Nodo. OD (inadvertently): Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Polyommatine Lycaenids of the Oreal Biome in the Neotropics, part iv: Description of a new Madeleinea (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) Species from Ecuador,” Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungariae (Budapest), 41 (1), 1995, p. 25–34. The OD was followed up by a more detailed treatment in: Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Synopsis of the High Andean and Austral Polyommatine Genus Madeleinea BÁLINT 1993 (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae),” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 43, 1995, p. 7–9.

Madeleinea tintarrona BÁLINT & JOHNSON 1994 [Lycáenidae]: a polyommatine butterfly currently known only from the type locality in Peru (La Oroya) where it was collected in 1900. The males are cloisonne blue, with a black margin wide at the apex and narrow at tornus. The females unknown. The forewing length is 8 mm. Named for Tintarron, ”the precious deep blue glass made in the mountains of Zembla, here referring to the dorsal ground color of this species.” OD: Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Synopsis of the High Andean and Austral Polyommatine Genus Madeleinea BÁLINT 1993 (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae),” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 43, 1995, p. 12–13.

Madeleinea vokoban BÁLINT & JOHNSON 1994 [Lycáenidae]: a small polyommatine butterfly of which only the female is known. It is chocolate brown and was collected at Seville de Oro in Ecuador, at an altitude of 2500 m. The forewing length is 9 mm. ‘Vokoban’ is ‘Nabokov’ read backwards. OD (inadvertently): Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Polyommatine Lycaenids of the Oreal Biome in the Neotropics, part iv: Description of a new Madeleinea (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) Species from Ecuador,” Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungariae (Budapest), 41 (1), 1995, p. 25–34. The OD was followed up by a more detailed treatment in: Zsolt Bálint / Kurt Johnson: ”Polyommatine Lycaenids of the Oreal Biome in the Neotropics, Part v: Synopsis of the High Andean and Austral Polyommatine Genus Madeleinea BÁLINT 1993 (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae),” Reports of the Museum of Natural History, University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point), 43, 1995, p. 10–11.


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INTRO
BUTTERFLIES NAMED BY NABOKOV
BUTTERFLIES NAMED FOR NABOKOV
BUTTERFLIES WITH 'NABOKOVIAN' NAMES
COMMON NAMES
NABOKOV ON BUTTERFLIES


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