Due to the sheer number of named aberrations for some species, not all are shown on the species pages - only those for which corresponding images are available. This page, however, provides access to all of the named aberrations for a given species, where known and Goodson & Read (1969) is a key resource in this regard.
This species displays considerable variation in both the upperside ground colour and the familiar upperside pattern and markings.
Much work has been carried out in this species to discover how temperature shock in the late larval/ early pupal stage can affect the development of pigments in the imago. These experiments have assisted our understanding of how and when the pigments are 'mapped' in the Vanessid butterflies. The Small Tortoiseshell appears to be particularly sensitive to temperature shock, and this species has been widely bred in the past in the hope of producing extreme environmentally controlled aberrations such as ab. semi-ichnusoides.
Extreme shocks of either heat or cold during the last 24 hours of the larval stage and the first 48 hours of the pupal stage can disrupt the natural process of metamorphosis and inhibit the normal processes in which organic chemicals create the colouration of the wing scales.
The expression of aberration through temperature shock is a graduated process; one level of exposure creates ab. semi-ichnusoides, a little more fuses all three black blotches along the costa of the forewing to create ab. conjuncta, and the most extreme exposure produces an almost entirely melanic form known as ab. osborni. The conditions required to produce the latter forms are thought to be so extreme that they lie right on the very cusp of extremes of temperature that would be fatal to the larva or pupa. Consequently these forms are rare in captivity and extremely unlikely to be met with in the wild.
It is difficult to ascertain how frequently any of these aberration occur in the wild, however it is a rare event that exposes the newly formed pupa or transitional larva to the necessary conditions for metamorphosis to be disrupted in this way, and this is supported by the paucity of historical sightings of the extreme aberrations in the wild. That is not to say that the lesser of the aberrations do not occur however, and an ab. semi-ichnusoides presents a particularly striking sight when nectaring on a garden buddleia amongst typical individuals.
It has been speculated that severe late frosts could possibly cause instances of these aberrant forms, as well as a larva/pupa being exposed to particularly strong sunlight after having the normally sheltered pupation site disturbed in some manner.
Environmental influences are not the sole cause of aberration in this species however, and there are many genetic aberrations which the observer could encounter at any time. Occasionally the orange ground colour is replaced entirely by a pale whitish buff (ab. lutea), as well as various transitional shades leading to this. Similarly, sometimes the orange colour is replaced by a brownish-purple hue and this is known as ab. brunneoviolacea.
There are in excess of 105 named aberrations known to occur in Britain.
The upper part of the transverse band of the upperside of the hindwings is clouded with black.
= albidomaculata Stach.Spraw.Kom.Fiz.1922.55-56.p.132.
The normal yellow costal patches replaced by white. Stachâ€™s albidomaculata had all the markings, which are normally yellow, changed to white. Lempke says the alba of Cosmovici should be dropped as it was probably founded on faded specimens. Since Cosmovici says â€˜whiteâ€™ it is difficult to see how faded specimens could be confused, they are never really white but a drab transparent nondescript colour [Goodson & Read].
The apical white patch on the costa of the forewings is very extended and cut by black nervures.
The wings broader than usual, the external border less concave.
On the upperside of the hindwings the transverse band is narrow.
On the forewings the two upper black costal spots are more or less joined by a suffusion of black scales blotting out the normal yellow space. The twin discal spots are absent, the marginal black band narrow with small blue spots. Hindwings black-brown and showing a discal series of pale brown spots some distance before the margin which is blacker than the rest of the wing and narrow with a full row of small blue spots.
The basal portions of the forewings cloud up exactly as in the subspecies ichnusa Bonelli [Aglais urticae ichnusa, Sardinian Small Tortoiseshell] which has this clouding extended almost up to the first black costal spot.
A dark form in which the base of the forewings is much suffused with black and red-brown scales, mostly extending to the median area of the wing as in subspecies [species] milberti [Aglais milberti, Milbertâ€™s Tortoiseshell] found in North America.
Forewings with the black basal colouring variable in extent and the usual yellowish suffusion almost wanting, leaving the base very dark.
= alba Raynor.(nom.preoc.Cocsmovici).Ent.Rec.1909.21.p.8.
Upperside with the ground colour white.
The blue lunules in the margin extend into streaks, especially on the forewings, traversing the width of the border which is very broad and black, advancing into the fulvous ground colour.
= guhni Tschauner.Int.Ent.Z.1926.20.p.229.
= implumis Watkins.Entom.1942.73.p.202.
Upperside with the ground colour brown-violet. Tschaunerâ€™s guhni was of the same colour with thin scaling. Watkinâ€™s implumis had rolled-up scales, giving the impression of thinness and a smoky, slightly iridescent suffusion of purplish-pink to purplish-yellow. This colour form varies considerably since the scales are abnormal and produce a semi-greasy appearance, the usual red of the tortoiseshell being completely absent.
A delicate chalky-blue suffusion at the apex of the forewings.
Upperside with the ground colour bright fulvous.
Agrees in general with ab. atrebatensis Boisduval but all three of the black costal spots are joined into one long bar.
Upperside with pale yellowish ground colour but with the marginal lunules larger than usual. From a Verity description. The original is in Russian only.
On the upperside of the forewings the third or outer black costal spot is intersected by the ground colour along nervure 6.
On the upperside of the forewings the first and second costal spots are connected by a thick black bar along the costa. All other markings normal.
Upperside with the ground colour rich blood-red.
The blue marginal lunules of the forewings wedge-shaped.
On the forewings the two upper black costal spots are joined into one and the twin discal spots are absent. Hindwings with the fulvous transverse band suffused into the black of the basal half. On both fore and hindwings the normally blue marginal lunules are replaced by decided straw-yellow wedges, those of the hindwings particularly cuneate, extending as far as the margin through the disappearance of the normal black marginal line. Whether or not the hindwings have the usual fulvous transverse band is not stated, presumably the band is still present.
The postmedian yellow patch on the costa of the forewings, in normal specimens, is replaced by reddish i.e. the same colour as the rest of the wing. Transitional to ab. erythrophaea Fritsch.
Upperside with the ground colour dark ochre-yellow with no red.
The black twin discal spots of the forewings, one or both, elongated.
The ground colour pale yellowish-fulvous and with a marked reduction in all the black spots, commencing with the large costal blotch of the forewings. From a Verity description. The original is in Russian.
The yellow costal patches, and the yellow patch on the outer edge of the black spot of the inner-margin, are only feebly yellow or not yellow, instead they are of a warm scarlet-brown.
The white apical patch of the forewings is enlarged and extends over cells 7, 8 and 9. It is bordered on its lower side by a black line, which connects the third black costal spot with the black marginal band. Extremely similar to ab. albapicta Cabeau but the white patch apparently not cut by black veins.
The upperside of the forewings with no yellow costal or discal spots, the colour being uniformly dark reddish-brown to dark yellow-brown. Hindwings with no yellow costal portion to the red transverse band. All these yellow patches or spots are of the same colour as the rest of the wings and the apical white patch of the forewings is weakly grey, there are no blue marginal spots on the forewings and those of the hindwings are dull bluish-grey with the anal area darker than usual. This appears to be much more extreme than ab. erythrophaea Fritsch; Lempke however makes it a synonym.
The wings narrow and the angles more marked so that it resembles the shape of c-album [Polygonia c-album, Comma] in this respect.
The white apical patch of the forewings considerably enlarged, cut by the black nervures to form white rays which reach from the narrow marginal band across towards the black discal spots which, however, in the figure, are not present. The white rays decrease in width as they go downward, finishing half way down the wing. The median area, around the position of the twin discal spots, is lightened to form a yellowish band which links up with the yellow costal spot to form a continuous median pale band. The black costal blotches are normal and the hindwings are normal. There is no description; the above is from the figure in black and white [Goodson & Read].
= ochrea Debauche.Lamb.1933.33.p.208.
On the upperside of the hindwings the yellow apical patch is extended as far as the anal angle, thus forming a yellow fascia. Debauche named the same form twice. His second name, ochrea, had the description, â€œOn the upperside of the hindwings the red of the median part is entirely replaced by pale ochre-yellowâ€.
= xanthodes Cabeau.Rev.Mens.Soc.Ent.Nam.1922.22.p.21.
= elisa Stephan.Iris.1923.37.p.37.
Forewings with a pale yellow band developed from costa down to inner margin, enveloping the twin discal spots. Cabeauâ€™s xanthodes had a yellow postmedian band, which contains the twin-spots. Stephanâ€™s elisa had the yellow costal blotch continuing downwards in the shape of a slightly curved band as far as the inner margin and enclosing the twin-spots. The hindwings with the yellow apical part of the transverse band stretching far down. This form can be separated if desired on account of this hindwing band being slightly different from normal, the main character however would seem to be the forewing band.
Upperside with the ground colour reddish-fulvous.
The outer margins edged with grey.
On the forewings the base is fulvous-washed brown, but apart from a fulvous discoidal patch and the greyish-white apical patch, the whole wing is blackened by the joining up of all the black markings. Hindwings uniform black-brown, the lunules being absent on both fore and hindwings. Underside completely black, the forewings with a slight lightening towards the disc. The most extreme form of all the melanics.
= pseudoichnusa Sagarra.Butll.Inst.Catal.Hist.Nat.10.p.114.
The black spots on the forewings are only four in number as in subspecies ichnusa Bonelli [Aglais urticae ichnusa, Sardinian Small Tortoiseshell] from Corsica, the character of which it closely resembles. Verity in his Farf.Diurn.It.4.p.365 states that this is the original description of ichnusioides SÃ©lys and therefore the correct name for specimens, which do not have the two discal twin-spots. SÃ©lys unfortunately linked the name later with specimens which had the twin-spots absent but also had the costal black spots united as in ab. atrabatensis Boisduval and subsequent authors use the name for examples showing this added character. SÃ©lys obviously used the name ichnusioides because it was like ichnusa Bonelli, the Corsican subspecies, which has the twin-spots absent but certainly not the costal spots joined into a black blotch. Lempke takes the view of most authors and accepts the later figure given by SÃ©lys in Soc.Ent.Belg.21.pl.1.f.5 which has the black costal spots united, but he gives the original reference, Cat.Lep.Belg.1837.p.18. I have not seen the original description but there is no reason to doubt Verity and, in my opinion, the fact that SÃ©lys says it closely resembles ichnusa rules out the possibility that the costal spots are united. Lempkeâ€™s impuncta which has the twin-spots absent is therefore a synonym.
= fervida Fritsch.Ent.Rundsch.1913.30.p.9.
Upperside with the ground colour fiery-red. Fritsch described fervida as fiery and deep fox-red.
Upperside with the ground colour reddish. Transitional to ab. ignea Raynor. Reuss hints that Raynorâ€™s ignea is unknown, or extremely rare, in the field.
On the upperside of the hindwings the veins are much blackened, those of the forewings normal.
All the dark markings are intensified.
The apex having the appearance of V. io [Vanessa io] [syn. Aglais io, Peacock], the markings forming a similar ocellus. The second and third costal black spots are more or less united but the upper one is surrounded on its outer side by whitish and is round in shape as in the Peacock mark in V. io. The white spots on its outer side are metallic and cut by black veins, the two lowest being shaded in violet as in V. io. The twin discal spots are absent and the black margins wide. Hindwings brownish, the colour of V. io, with a large area in the costal half, the position of the ocellus in V. io, of a brown-black. The figure shows the forewings extraordinarily like V. io, especially as regards the ocellus marking at the apex, and the very wide dark marginal border.
There is no description, only the figure, which shows the second and third black costal spots united with each other and the first spot almost so. The twin discal spots are absent and the black spot on the inner margin also absent. Hindwings with the transverse band brownish, obscured at the top (apex) and with three large wedge-shaped blue spots in the margin and some lower blue spots very faint.
Upperside with the ground colour brick-red.
On the upperside of the hindwings the transverse band is broad.
Forewings with the second and third black costal spots fused into one and no yellow spaces on the costa. The twin discal spots are faint or absent and there are no blue lunules in the margin. Hindwings without the yellow patch near the apex or upper part of the fulvous band. The photograph shows the light patch at the top of the fulvous band very clearly, despite the description.
The whole ground colour lighter, the fox-red recedes and the straw-yellow comes up. Possibly the same as ab. pallida Mosley.
On the forewings the yellow patches between the two upper black costal spots are dusted over and appear greyish. The twin discal spots are absent and the margins black with imperceptible blue lunules. Hindwings black with a trace of fulvous in the middle, the blue marginal lunules very feeble.
Hindwings with the two upper of the four blue lunules in the anal area united to form a large blue crescent. The two lower ones are normal and the other lunules in the costal half of the wing are very faint or absent. Forewings with only three blue lunules in the middle of the margin and the yellow costal space between the second and third black costal spots is crossed by a black line. The form would appear to have been named on the character of the blue crescent on the hindwings.
The ground colour of the upperside buff.
= fulvomarginata Raynor.Ent.Rec.1909.21.p.7.
The outer margins edged with pale yellow and not greyish-blue as in the type [typical form] form. Raynorâ€™s form was edged with fulvous.
Upperside of the forewings from SC4 to Cu1 has a dull white stripe, which ends in Cu1. The first third of Mz reddish-brown, otherwise black, the cell between M3 and C2 has reddish-brown for one third, otherwise right up to the outer edge whitish-grey. Between Cu2 and A2, nearer to the outer edge, a greyish black spot resembling that of Mz, which occupies the half of the cell. Melanic, transitional to ab. gruetii Corcelle. This is the original description, not very clear [Goodson & Read].
On the upperside of the forewings the lowest of the three black blotches on the costa, the basal, is completely absent.
With large blue lunules in the border of the forewings.
With large blue lunules in the margin of the hindwings.
The black spot on the inner margin large.
The twin discal spots of the forewings very large.
Tutt merely says, â€œthe hindwings are sometimes entirely blackâ€. Since the forewing pattern is not mentioned, it is presumably normal.
The forewings with the two upper black costal spots united into one bar. The twin discal spots absent. Hindwings all black with no blue lunules but with streaks of fawn at the margin. Some authors give De Mofarts as the author but although he described it in Misc.Ent.1895.p.122 he did not name it. See also Haverkampf.Ann.Soc.Ent.Belg.48.p.186.pl.1.f.1.
With a narrow black margin to the costa of the forewings.
A black streak running from the tornus to the central black spot on the inner margin.
Both fore and hindwings with a broad black outer border. All other markings normal.
The two upper black costal spots of the forewings united into one, the twin discal spots absent. Hindwings entirely black-brown without any marginal spots or only slight traces of some yellowish ones. I have not seen the original description but most authors say the chief character is the all black hindwings [Goodson & Read].
A blackish cloudy area between the second black costal spot and the black spot on the inner margin. This is often wrongly called ab. polaris Staudinger, which is a northern subspecies [Aglais urticae polaris].
Upperside with the ground colour dull dusky red.
All three black costal spots united into one long bar or stripe. There is no white apical space, rufous replacing it, and the black margin is very wide covering the twin discal spots and joining up with the black spot on the inner margin. The marginal lunules are yellow-brown. Hindwings uniform brown, lighter towards the anal angle and with no marginal spots.
Upperside with the ground colour whitish. Presumably this is just off white and therefore not the same as ab. bellieri Cabeau.
= herrmanni Herrmann.Ent.Z.1901.15.p.54.
Upperside with the ground colour very light ochre-yellow.
With small blue lunules in the border of the margin of the forewings.
With small blue lunules in the margin of the hindwings.
The black spot on the inner margin small.
The twin discal spots of the forewings very small.
Upperside with the ground colour like that of polychloros [Nymphalis polychloros, Large Tortoiseshell].
= fasciata Maslowscy.(nom.preoc.Reuss).Polsk.Pismo.Ent.1923.2.p.126.pl.1.f.2.
On the forewings the central black costal spot is joined to the black spot on the inner margin by a black band formed by a thick powdering of black scales and therefore similar to the subspecies connexa Butler [Aglais urticae connexa] from Japan.
Lively or bright fox-red with the median twin-spots of the forewings smaller or completely absent and the margins narrow.
The twin discal spots of the forewings joined.
On the forewings an extra spot above and below the twin discal spots making four.Peerdeman credits Birch with the authorship of the name but Birch only described, without naming, the form in Entom.1944.77.p.7.
= neorodes Cabeau.Rev.Mens.Soc.Ent.Nam.1922.22.p.22.
On the upperside of the forewings the veins in the reddish areas are much blackened. Cabeauâ€™s neorodes had the forewings divided by broad black nervures.
Upperside with the ground colour pale rose, very light, with a rose-red shade.
Upperside with the ground colour reddish-ochreous.
Upperside with the ground colour salmon.
The ground colour pale rather washed-out reddish with no yellow spaces on the costa of the forewings. The twin discal spots are absent and the white apical patch is replaced by dirty-white, extensive, and cut by black veins, and leaving the black margin narrower, diminishing still more as it continues downwards. There is a distinct yellowish shade, or patch, at the tornus. The black costal spots are not joined but appear to be rather suffused or washed-out in the coloured figure. Hindwings of a dirty grey-brown with an orange coloured cloud in the centre, rather small and slightly towards the anal angle.
Forewings, except the basal third which is of normal reddish, of a transparent whitish colour, the veins picked out in reddish. The lowest cell, on the inner margin, retains its normal reddish and there is still a small patch of reddish near the apex of the wing. Hindwings with the usual reddish band of a whitish-pink. This form is probably pathological, with defective scaling.
The figure shows the two upper black costal spots united into a black blotch. The twin discal spots are absent and there are no blue marginal lunules on the forewings. Hindwings with the black extended to the margin, covering the usual fulvous transverse band except for a small area at the anal angle. The margins have normal blue lunules.
The two upper black costal spots united into one, the twin discal spots absent and the blue marginal lunules reduced to three. Hindwings with the upper part of the fulvous band clouded over instead of showing a pale patch, and with blue lunules. Hardly separable from ab. leodiensis Cabeau but shows some blue lunules in the margin of the forewings, which are said to be lacking in ab. leodiensis.
Upperside with the ground colour not fox-red but duller, of a dull yellowish-brown or salmon-brown, with a fading of the straw-yellow patches.
The figure shows towards the apex of the forewings three yellow rays or streaks, rather thin, and originating in the upper yellow costal space, cutting through to the edge of the wing, through the margins. Beneath these there are shorter yellow rays cutting through to the ground colour. The description says the general appearance is more showy, the pattern reduced as in subspecies turcica [Aglais urticae turcica] but with the fulvous ground, especially in the female, very light and yellow, also reduced in extent by the long yellow spaces which penetrate into it.
A black streak situated in the centre of the forewings between the black costal spot and the black blotch on the inner marging. The streak is horizontal and would seem to be the first stage of what is often called ab. polaris Staudinger, a Polar subspecies which has a blackish cloudy area connecting the black costal spot with that on the inner margin. Raynor has named the similar aberration nubilata.
Underside with the pale areas creamy instead of ochreous.
On the underside the blackish markings in the basal and median portions of the wings are very conspicuous and brilliant.
On the underside of the hindwings the outer area is ochreous or white. Possibly the same as subtus-lactea Raynor which had all pale areas creamy, Reuss mentions only the outer area of the hindwings so it is left as distinct for the present.
The underside with the marginal lunules of a light bluish-grey, groups of shining white scales brightening them and making them very conspicuous and decorative.
Underside with the pale areas rufous instead of ochreous.
On the underside of the forewings the area from the apex to, and including, the third costal spot, is almost unicolorous brown with small deep brown striae. This same colour is shown on the underside of the hindwings, consequently there is hardly any contract between the lighter submarginal band and the dark parts.
The underside of the hindwings nearly unicolorous blackish.
Underside very dark. The twin discal spots of the forewings are well marked by deep brown blotches in the manner often exhibited by V. xanthomelas [Vanessa xanthomelas] [syn. Nymphalis xanthomelas, Scarce Tortoiseshell]. On the upperside the black spot on the inner margin is obsolete. The name implies an underside form only, the character of the upperside can be ignored [Goodson & Read].
On the underside of the hindwings the pale submarginal band is darkened but crossed by pale nervures.
Upperside with the ground colour of a deep rich tortoiseshell.
Forewings with an extra discal spot, making three instead of the normal twin-spots.
= monographa Cabeau.Rev.Mens.Soc.Ent.Nam.1922.22.p.22.
Only one of the twin-spots present. Cabeauâ€™s monographa had the upper of the two discal spots completely absent, the lower one very small. By the name it would appear to be only one spot counting.
= pygmaea Heyne.(RÃ¼hl).
= minor Derenne.Lamb.1926.26.p.4.
Upperside with the ground colour smoky, caused by a dusting of black atoms especially in the distal [discal ?] area. Described under subspecies turcica [Aglais urticae turcica] but may well occur in other races.
The figure shows the black margins of the forewings extremely wide especially at the apex, where it unites with the middle spot of the three costal ones, blotting out the white apical space. This wide margin reaches the twin discal spots on one forewing and almost so on the other, but is not so black as the markings i.e. the discal, costal, and inner marginal spots, which stand out in jet black compared with the rather muddy-black of the band. Hindwings normal with a rather wide marginal dark band but not nearly so broad as that of the forewings. The blue lunules are present but very small.
The marginal lunules have a violet glitter.