Fresh off the presses, the Virginia Tech Insect Collection now has a logo! While designing it, I wanted it to be (a) classic looking and (b) include a beetle or a butterfly. I thought about an animated gif like the Entomological Society of Pennsylvania‘s flashing firefly logo, or with an entomological oddity like the Royal Entomological Society‘s logo with a strepsipteran, or even the Entomological Society of British Columbia‘s with a snow scorpion.
I ultimately ended up with the Diana fritillary, Speyeria diana. Though, I’m still considering an animated gif with a male and a female flashing on and off (the male colors are completely different, they’re orange and black). The female, shown in the logo, is deep midnight blue with sky and pale blue highlights. Just the female is part of the black mimicry ring that also includes the Pipevine swallowtail and our state butterfly the Eastern tiger swallowtail, among several other species.
The Diana is native throughout the eastern U.S. and can be found at the edges of rich moist forests, particularly in the Appalachian Mountains. One unique aspect of this species is that the female oviposits besides its host plant, a violet, and not directly on it. The larvae then burrow into the ground to overwinter then emerge in the spring to feed.
Notably, the Diana was described in 1777 by the Dutch entomologist Pieter Cramer based on specimens collected near Jamestown, Virginia. Unfortunately, S. diana has not been seen in the area since the 1950s, and it’s believed extirpated from most of the eastern part of Virginia. In contrast you can find S. diana in the mountains of southwestern Virginia (including one spot just north of Blacksburg) and in restricted pockets throughout the southeastern U.S.
- Carlton, C. E., & Nobles, L. S. (1996). Distribution of Speyeria diana (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in the highlands of Arkansas, Missouri & Oklahoma, with comments on conservation. Entomological News, 107, 213-219.
- Howe, W. H. (1975). The butterflies of North America (p. 633). Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
- Scholtens, B. (2004). Diana fritillary, species description. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Online at: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/cwcs/pdf/DianaFritillary.pdf
- Vaughan, D. M., & Shepherd, M. D. (2005). Species Profile: Speyeria diana. In: Red List of Pollinator Insects of North America. Portland, OR: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Online at: http://www.xerces.org/diana-fritillary/