Camberwell Beauty

Nymphalis antiopa (nim-FAY-liss an-tee-OH-puh)

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Thatcham - 25-Jul-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
 

Wingspan
Male: 76 - 86mm
Female: 78 - 88mm

Checklist Number
59.028

Family:NymphalidaeRafinesque, 1815
Subfamily:NymphalinaeRafinesque, 1815
Tribe:NymphaliniRafinesque, 1815
Genus:NymphalisKluk, 1780
Subgenus:  
Species:antiopa(Linnaeus, 1758)

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Introduction

The Camberwell Beauty is a rare migrant to the British Isles, originating in Scandinavia and mainland Europe. In some years there is a relatively-large influx of individuals, as occurred in 1846, 1872, 1947, 1976, 1995 and 2006, where individuals were reported throughout the British Isles. Like many migrants, this butterfly does not maintain a sustainable breeding population here since mating only occurs after hibernation and those adults that do manage to overwinter successfully are so few in number that the chances of finding a mate is small. None of the immature stages has ever been found in the wild in the British Isles.

The Aurelian by Moses Harris, published in 1766, gives this butterfly the name "The Grand Surprize" or "Camberwell Beauty", based on 2 individuals that were caught in Cold Arbour Lane near Camberwell in 1748. In America, this butterfly is known as the Mourning Cloak. Although there have been sightings from many parts of the British Isles, most records are from eastern counties.

Nymphalis antiopa

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Sweden, America).

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Newbury - 29-Aug-06 (2) [Paul Olive]

Male
Photo © Paul Olive

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Thatcham - 20-Sep-07 (1205) {REARED}

Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Unknown location - 2008 [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Female
Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty (Mating couple) - Alpes-Maritimes - 1 April 2010

Female Underside
Photo © CFB

Photo Album ...


History

The table below shows a chronology of vernacular names attributed to this species. Any qualification of the name (e.g. male, female) is shown in brackets after the name.

YearNameReference
1749Willow ButterflyWilkes (1749)
1766Grand SurprizeHarris (1766)
1766Camberwell BeautyHarris (1766)
1803White BorderHaworth (1803)
1824White-BorderedJermyn (1824)
1913Willow BeautyNewman & Leeds (1913)
1913White PetticoatNewman & Leeds (1913)
1924Mourning CloakFrohawk (1924)

Conservation Status

No conservation action is relevant for this species.

Habitat

This butterfly is a great wanderer and is often seen in gardens feeding on rotting fruit, such as plums. The same individual will often remain in the same location for several days. In the spring the adults will feed from sallow flowers and sap runs.

Distribution

1.2 Rare Migrant
 

This species is a rare migrant to the British Isles.

Life Cycle

Although the adults have been seen in every month of the year, immigrants start to arrive in June and July, with a definite peak of sightings in August and September. Some of these adults go into hibernation and are sometimes disturbed from their hibernation site, such as a log pile or outbuilding. A small proportion of hibernating adults survive until the following year. This happened quite recently when several individuals from the 2006 influx were seen in early 2007. There is one brood each year.

Imago

This is a distinctive butterfly, even in flight, as the white wing borders are unmistakable. The adult is a solitary insect and, as such, migrates singly rather that in the swarms associated with other migrant species.

Description to be completed.

Nymphalis antiopa

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Thatcham - 16-Sep-07 (1199) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
16-Sep-2007

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Thatcham - 20-Sep-07 (1205) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Sep-2007

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Thatcham - 20-Sep-07 (1208) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Sep-2007

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Thatcham - 25-Jul-08 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Jul-2008

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Minsmere RSPB Reserve, Suffolk - 17-Aug-06 (2) [James Wright]

Photo © James Wright

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Minsmere RSPB Reserve, Suffolk - 17-Aug-06 [James Wright]

Photo © James Wright

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Newbury - 29-Aug-06 (2) [Paul Olive]

Photo © Paul Olive

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Newbury - 29-Aug-06 [Paul Olive]

Photo © Paul Olive

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Unknown location - 2008 [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty (Mating couple) - Alpes-Maritimes - 1 April 2010

Photo © CFB
01-Apr-2010

Camberwell Beauty - Alpes-Maritimes - 25 March 2012

Photo © CFB
25-Mar-2012

Photo Album (11 photos) ...


Ovum

Eggs are laid in clusters around a twig of the foodplant. The size of the clusters varies considerably and may contain any number of eggs, usually between 30 and 250.

"The female Camberwell Beauty lives for about three months after pairing, and deposits its eggs in two or three or even more batches, averaging from about 150 to 250 eggs in a batch. The total complement of eggs laid by one female numbers between four and five hundred. When a stout stem is selected for the eggs the batch does not encircle it, but only covers that portion (generally about half the circumference and always on the under side) which the abdomen can cover with the ovipositor. The egg is 0.91 mm. high, of an oblong form, and having, as a rule, eight, but occasionally nine, longitudinal keels, commencing below the summit and rising prominently; they then gradually decrease in height and disappear before reaching the base. They are fluted and resemble white frosted glass. The spaces between the keels are slightly concave and very finely fluted transversely, the ridges being extremely fine. The micropyle is slightly raised in the centre and is finely granulated. Near the base the surface is faintly ridged longitudinally; the base is firmly embedded in glutinous substance. The colour, when first laid, is rather deep ochreous-yellow, inclining to olive-yellow, which very gradually deepens to an olive-brown to the naked eye; but when viewed under the microscope the whole surface presents a finely mottled appearance, resembling in pattern crocodile skin, the ground colour being amber-brown with light amber reticulations; this pattern is under the shell. When fourteen days old one batch of eggs had changed to a deep lilac-red, approaching Indian red, and on the eighteenth day had assumed a deep leaden grey, and hatched on the twenty-first day. Such a deep red colour as this is unusual, as the other batches did not attain so deep a hue, the normal change of colouring being from a deep ochreous-yellow and olive-brown to a deep red-brown; then the larva begins to show under the shell, exhibiting a pale ochreous body and dark brown head, which gradually turns to black; the shell is then of a glistening pearl-grey. To the naked eye the entire batch appears of a beautiful silver-grey-blue just before hatching." - Frohawk (1924)

Camberwell Beauty - ovum - Unknown location - 2008 (2) [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - ovum - Unknown location - 2008 (3) [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - ovum - Unknown location - 2008 (4) [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - ovum - Unknown location - 2008 [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (2) [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (3) [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


Larva

Larvae feed gregariously but disperse just prior to pupation, where they may travel quite some distance.

The primary larval foodplants are Elms (various) (Ulmus spp.), Poplars (various) (Populus spp.) and Willows (various) (Salix spp.).

Camberwell Beauty - larva - Unknown location - 2008 [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date (2) [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Camberwell Beauty - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date [REARED] [Nigel Venters]

Photo © Nigel Venters

Photo Album (3 photos) ...


1st Instar

"The larva begins making its exit by nibbling tiny holes in a circle round the crown of the egg; this continues until it is completely cut round; then the larva pushes off the cap and emerges. It immediately starts spinning a carpet of silk as it crawls away, spinning as it goes crawling to the extremity of the branch. They all do precisely the same, and at once congregate, forming a colony on the last cluster of leaves, covering the bases with web, on which they live and feed in company. The batch of larvae hatched on May 3rd; thus remained in the egg state nineteen days. This batch (the first laid) contained 192 eggs, all of which hatched excepting one. On May 5th another batch hatched, and all did the same as the first lot; and on the 16th a very large batch of eggs hatched which were laid on the same branch as those hatched on the 5th, and directly the larva emerged they all started spinning and crawling up the branch till they arrived at the part already covered with web by the previous brood, and, following the web-covered branches, every individual of the large batch ascended and joined the elder company, which were eleven days old. The two families then formed one big community, those just hatched nestling among their larger companions. The following day another large family hatched, which divided into two companies and lived separately from the first. The larva, directly after emergence, measures 1.8 mm. long; the head is large and shining black, and a few fine black bristles are scattered over the surface; the segmental divisions are clearly defined, each segment having about four transverse wrinkles and ten black hairs (five on each side); those on the dorsal surface are very long, slightly curved, and three in number above the spiracle; immediately behind the spiracle is another, which projects laterally; and slightly in front, and below the spiracle, is the fifth, which curves downwards; all these are black, with shining black bulbous bases; the surrounding skin is bare of the minute black granulations which cover the whole of the surface of the body; these bare places form a pale circular disc round each hair, and also the spiracles, which are black; the claspers are granulated with black at the base, and have two whitish spines directed downwards; the foot is large and furnished with very ample claws. The entire colouring of the body is pale olive-brown, inclining to citron. The larvae always rest in a dense mass, all crowded together, some on top of the others; they cover the leaves with web. As soon as the leaves are stripped of the cuticle, the entire company move to a fresh supply. If disturbed they curve upward the anterior portion of the body and remain in that attitude for a short time. When the whole company are slightly on the move in the sun they present a curious sparkling mass, clue to the immense number of glistening black heads. Shortly before the first moult the larva measures 5.4 mm. long. It is uniformly cylindrical, the segments deeply incised and very glossy. The ground colour is amber-brown, with a medio-dorsal series of longitudinal dark brown marks, and mottlings of the same colour form a dark spiracular band; the spiracles are also amber-brown; the sub-dorsal series is freckled with brown. When undergoing the change for moulting they occasionally move about on the web-covered leaves, a habit unusual among other species of butterflies." - Frohawk (1924)

2nd Instar

"The first moult occurred on May 20th. Directly after moulting the head is ochreous, but in a very short time turns jet-black and shining; also there are ochreous dorsal markings which soon change to dull brown. Before the second moult, when twenty-three days old, it measures 10.2 mm. long; the body is covered with minute black points, which are so *small that they give the glossy surface a granular appearance; besides these, tiny black warts are sprinkled over the whole surface; these vary much in size, and each one emits a tiny black hair; there are also longitudinal rows of small black tubercles; the first is medio-dorsal, the second sub-dorsal, the third super-spiracular, and the fourth sub-spiracular; each of these terminates in a rather long, slender, curving, black bristle, and several shorter ones spring from the sides of each tubercle; the spiracles are black; the ground colour is brown freckled with ochreous, and a broad band of the latter colour, broken up by a medio-dorsal series of dark markings, occurs as in the previous stage; the head is shining black and beset with hairs, the legs shining black, the claspers clear ochreous-yellow, and of the same colour as the dorsal band. The larvae feed on the topmost leaves, at first eating the basal portion, and by their weight causing the leaves to hang clown until their ends rest on the leaves below; they feed on these in turn, and continue in this manner to work their way downwards, feeding as they go, eating all the leaves and covering everything with web." - Frohawk (1924)

3rd Instar

"Second moult on May 27th. Before the third moult, twenty-nine days old, it measures 17.2 mm. long. The ground colour is a deep ashy or purplish-black; the dorsal band orange, broken up with black markings as in the former stage. Immediately below the spiracles are very faint crescentic markings, almost invisible; the tubercles of the previous stage are now developed into moderately long, black, spine-like tubercles, each terminating in a longish, curved white bristle, and numerous much smaller lateral hairs, and all the minute body-warts bear white hairs instead of black, as in the last skin; the head and legs are shining black, with fine white hairs; the claspers are amber colour. The spines of the medio-dorsal series are very short, and commence on the sixth segment and end on the eleventh, one on each of these six segments. They still remain gregarious. When one branch is denuded of leaves they all descend until reaching another branch, which they ascend to the end, and, again clustering together in a mass, feed downwards as before; when moving they are extremely active, and feed rapidly. Warm weather greatly influences the rapidity of their growth, cold retarding them considerably." - Frohawk (1924)

4th Instar

"Third moult on June 3rd. Before the fourth moult, thirty-four days old, it measures 31.8 mm. long; the ground colour is velvety black, otherwise very similar to the previous stage, but the dorsal orange band is richer and deeper in colour, and there are numerous very small pearly-white warts sprinkled over the body, mostly forming circles round each segment on the two posterior wrinkles; these, as well as the minute black warts, emit fine, curved white hairs; the black spines also bear fine white hairs; the dorsal spines terminate with black, spine-like bristles; the super and sub-spiracular spines end with longish, curved white hairs with black tips; the black head is bilobed and cleft on the crown and covered with white hairs; legs shining black; claspers bright tawny, excepting the anal pair, which are black; on the eleventh segment is a small, medio-dorsal, shining black disc, and on the twelfth segment is a much larger one, which closely resembles the head." - Frohawk (1924)

5th Instar

"After fourth and last moult, when fully grown, the larva measures 54 mm. long, of almost uniform thickness, excepting the first segment, which is much the smallest. The head is bilobed, having a deep notch on the crown, and of a dull black colour, covered with black warts, each emitting a white hair. The segmental divisions are deep, each segment being swollen in the middle and transversely wrinkled on the posterior half; the spines are long and tapering to a very long point, shining black, and bear a number of fine white hairs, each having a black swollen base; the two anterior pairs of dorsal spines are branched, each having two; the first segment is spineless. The arrangement of the spines is as follows: four each on the second and third segments; these are the longest spines on the body and are placed sub-dorsally and laterally; six each on the fourth and fifth, and seven each on all the remaining segments, excepting the last, which has four sub-dorsal ones, making in all sixty-six spines. From the sixth to eleventh segments (both inclusive) each has a short mcdio-dorsal spine, which is absent from the rest; the other spines, on the fourth to eleventh segments inclusive, form sub-dorsal, super-spiracular and sub-spiracular rows. The ground colour is a deep velvety black, the surface is minutely but roughly granulated, being covered with extremely minute points and densely sprinkled with pearl-white warts, each emitting a fine white hair, some being of considerable length and the majority slightly curved. They curve in different directions, giving the larva a soft, silky or velvety appearance from the varied play of light falling on the hairs. The segmental divisions are bare, as well as the interstices of the wrinkles, which appear of a deep velvety black; down the centre of the back is a series of rich, deep, rust-red, shield-like markings, which commence on the third segment and terminate on the eleventh segment, the first being the smallest and composed of four spots; the two anterior ones are very small; the red runs along each side of the medio-dorsal spine, and behind it in the middle of the red are three black markings; all the red markings have the surface granular like the rest of the body, and scattered with similar hairs, but the base of each is yellowish; in the centre of the anal segment is a shining black dorsal disc, much resembling the head; the spiracles are black and inconspicuous, the legs are black and shining, and the four pairs of middle claspers are a burnt sienna or rust colour, with a polished chitinous band above the feet, which are amply furnished with hooks; the anal pair are black with pale reddish feet. The larvae are gregarious until full fed; they then become very restless, leave the tree, and crawl rapidly about in search of a suitable place for pupation. The first became full fed on June 20th, when several started crawling restlessly about. After crawling for six hours, they finally rested close together, and were observed from time to time to be spinning pads of silk, as well as a layer of silk to rest upon, and attaching the anal claspers to the pads, and then settled down for pupation. Next day one after the other became suspended, and the following day (June 22nd) they all pupated. Like the larvae of other Vanessidae, E. antiopa are very sensitive to any disturbance; any sudden noise sufficient to cause concussion of the air causes the whole brood to give a violent jerk. By this instantaneous movement of several hundred larvae in a dense mass a very curious effect is produced, and, I should imagine, is somewhat alarming to any insectivorous bird that might approach them too closely. This habit exists through all the larval stages. Whether this is a protective habit or not cannot be said, but the spines in the last two stages, especially after the fourth moult, are so sharply pointed that they readily pierce the hand. Therefore, if occasion offered, such efficient weapons of defence would afford considerable protection to the larvae. Both sallow and willow are equally suitable food for the larvae, and birch is readily eaten, even when willow has formed the sole food until the last stage; they will also feed on elm. Nettle was not appreciated by the larvae, not being touched by them during the last two or three stages; only when first hatched did they feed upon it; although they lived upon nettle for several days they did not thrive, and eventually died, while almost without exception all the other larvae, about 2,000, throve and pupated which had fed on the other food named." - Frohawk (1924)

Camberwell Beauty - larva - Thatcham - 02-Jul-08 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
02-Jul-2008

Camberwell Beauty - larva - Thatcham - 23-Aug-07 (1180) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Aug-2007

Camberwell Beauty - larva - Thatcham - 25-Aug-07 (2) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Aug-2007

Camberwell Beauty - larva - Thatcham - 25-Aug-07 (3) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Aug-2007

Photo Album (4 photos) ...


Pupa

The pupa hangs upside-side attached by its cremaster to a leaf stem or twig. This stage lasts around 3 weeks.

"The pupa measures in total length, including the cremaster, from 25.4 mm. to 31.8 mm. The average of the male pupa is 25.4 mm. and that of the female 28.6 mm., but large females attain as much as 31.8 mm. Side view: The head is beaked in front, the thorax angular, rising to a pointed dorsal keel, and sloping posteriorly to the sunken meta-thorax; the abdominal segments rise to the third, then decreasing and curving to the anal segment, which terminates in a long, slightly curved cremaster, furnished with an ample cluster of hooks; the ventral surface forms a fairly straight line, except bulging at the apex of the wings. Dorsal view: The head terminates in two well developed points. There are three points which project laterally on the wing: the first on the base, the second on the inner margin, and the third near the anal angle; between these points the outline is concave, the abdomen gradually tapers to the anal segment, the cremaster is broad, flattened, rounded at the end, and has a sunken centre. On the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth abdominal segments is a mcdio-dorsal black point and a sub-dorsal series of six prominent points, commencing on the second segment and ending on the seventh segment; those on the eight and ninth segments are very small; that on the fourth segment is the largest; they have pale bases, black centres and orange tips; there are also two rows of small black tubercles, the first super-spiracular, the second sub-spiracular; each row is composed of a single tubercle on each segment; the spiracles are narrow transverse apertures of a dusky colour. The dorsal half of the head and wing points are black and the ventral half orange. The whole surface is finely and irregularly furrowed and granulated. The ground colour is a pale buff, covered with fine fuscous reticulations. The entire surface is clothed with a whitish, powdery substance, giving a pale lilac or pinkish bloom to the pupa, which, however, is easily rubbed off, the pupa then assuming a brownish hue. There is no variation in the colouring of the pupae; every one of some 2,000 examined was precisely as described. Immediately the pupa rids itself of the larval skin, it is so vigorous in its efforts to anchor the cremastral hooks firmly into the silken pad by its twistings and twirlings that they sometimes tear themselves away and fall to the ground. The pupa is suspended by the cremastral hooks to a rather dense pad of silk spun upon the surface of whatever the larva selects for the purpose near the tree upon which it fed. From this large number of pupae (about 2,000) the butterflies began emerging during the middle of July and continued until the middle of August, many of exceptionally large size, the largest female measuring exactly 88.8 mm. in expanse." - Frohawk (1924)

Camberwell Beauty - pupa - Thatcham - 04-Sep-07 (1189)

Photo © Pete Eeles
04-Sep-2007

Camberwell Beauty - pupa - Thatcham - 13-Jul-08 (5) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
13-Jul-2008

Photo Album (2 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

No similar species found.

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The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Frohawk (1924) Frohawk, F.W. (1924) The Natural History of British Butterflies.
Harris (1766) Harris, M. (1766) The Aurelian. Edition 1.
Haworth (1803) Haworth, A.H. (1803) Lepidoptera Britannica.
Jermyn (1824) Jermyn, L. (1824) The Butterfly Collector's Vade Mecum: or a Synoptical Table of English Butterflies.
Kluk (1780) Kluk, K. (1780) Zwierzat domowych i dzikich osobliwie kraiowych historyi naturalney poczatki i gospodarstwo.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Newman & Leeds (1913) Newman, L.W. and Leeds, H.A. (1913) Text Book of British Butterflies and Moths.
Rafinesque (1815) Rafinesque, C.S. (1815) Analyse de la nature ou Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés.
Wilkes (1749) Wilkes, B. (1749) The English moths and butterflies: together with the plants, flowers and fruits whereon they feed, and are usually found.