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A wandering snowflake

The Psyche (Leptosia nina)
The Psyche (Leptosia nina)

This little butterfly is a member of the family Pieridae, and has a wide distribution which covers Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. I took this photograph in northern Thailand. It was reportedly given the lyrical name of ‘wandering snowflake’ by a Victorian entomologist called Charles Lionel Augustus de Nicéville, who wrote a three-volume treatise on The butterflies of India, Burmah (sic.) and Ceylon. These books can still be read online (1).  It’s common name is Psyche, or a little spirit.  It reminds me of another little white pierid butterfly, The Wood white (Leptidea sinapis), which also has a wide distribution, across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.  I took this photograph of two Wood whites – perhaps a male and female as they appear to be exchanging something via their proboscis – in Spain.  Another pair of summer snowflakes!

Wood whites (Leptidea sinapis)
Wood whites (Leptidea sinapis)

1) Niceville, Lionel de (1886) The Butterflies of India, Burmah and Ceylon. Volume 2. Calcutta Central Press, Calcutta (

rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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