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Genus Microtia - Tiny Checkerspots

butterfly - Microtia elada - female Butterflies were puddling along the trail - Microtia dymas Elada Checkerspot - Microtia elada Dark edged Butterfly - Microtia dymas Microtia dymas? - Microtia dymas Tiny Checkerspot - Microtia dymas Elada Checkerspot - Microtia elada Elada Checkerspot - Microtia elada
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Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Subfamily Nymphalinae (Crescents, Checkerspots, Anglewings, etc.)
Tribe Melitaeini
Genus Microtia (Tiny Checkerspots)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Microtia Bates 1864. Genotype: Microtia elva Bates
Texola Higgins 1958. Genotype: Eresia elada Hewitson
Dymasia Higgins 1960. Genotype: Melitaea dymas Edwards
Chlosyne subgenus Texola (Higgins) D.L. Bauer [in Ehrlich & Ehrlich] 1961
Explanation of Names
The traditional genera Dymasia, Microtia, and Texola are very closely related. Based first on morphological analysis, and more recently on molecular analyses, they have recently been treated as belonging to a single genus Microtia [Kons, 2000; Erhlich, et al, 2004]. Microtia elva differs from the others in the unusual and striking color pattern, but not significantly in morphology; while Dymasia & Texola, as previously defined, show barely any significant differences at all. In fact, "Texola" elada is clearly more similar in appearance, and probably more closely related to "Dymasia" dymas than it is to "Texola" anomala. Since they were were described around 1960 (+/-), these genera have mostly been treated as separate, but there is a recent trend to include them together, and this is on par with current treatments of related genera such as Chlosyne, Euphydryas, Melitaea, etc., which have in past likewise been divided based largely on color patterns, but which are currently each generally considered as single genera composed of closely related subgenera or species groups. In fact, Microtia [in the inclusive sense] is closely enough related to Chlosyne that a case could be made for including it as just another subgenus within the broader genus Chlosyne. However, it seems most realistic, logical, and convenient to have these few very closely related species grouped together into one genus, as apposed to having them split into three separate tiny genera of dubious worth, and as apposed to having them subsumed among the rather different looking and morphologically distinct Chlosyne.
Numbers
Four species are generally recognized. Some authors treat perse as a species distinct from M. elada, and M. coracara as as a species separate from M. anomala, making the count six. All are North American, but M. anomala (incl. coracara) does not occur north of Mexico.

There are three groups based on pattern.
M. elva makes up one group.
M. dymas & M. elada (incl. perse) make up a second group.
M. anomalus (incl. coracara) makes up the third group.
Identification
M. elva is unmistakable; tiny, with forewings elongated and rounded. Wings are black; forewing with two large yellow-orange patches; hindwing with one patch.
Our other two species have a typical "Checkerspot" pattern, but the same size and shape as M. elva. The combination of tiny size and lack of rounded submarginal rows of dark spots on the upper side, makes them easily identified as belonging to this genus. Flight is rather weak and lazy, and front wings are relatively narrow and rounded, distinguishing them from small specimens of rather hyperactive and more powerful Poladryas species.
Range
Primarily North American tropics, from Venezuela north through Central America and Mexico to southwestern United States.
Print References
Ehrlich, Paul R. & Ilkka Hanski 'On the Wings of Checkerspots: A Model System for Population Biology', Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0-19-515827-X
Kons, Hugo L. Jr., 2000 'Phylogenetic Studies in the Melitaeini (Lepidoptera; Nymphalidae; Nymphalinae) and a Revision of the Genus Chlosyne Butler', Graduate Dissertation, University of Florida