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What’s This? No. 32

What's Wrong with this Butterfly Puzzle?

December 19, 2018  |  by Bryan Pfeiffer  |  10 comments  | 

What’s wrong with this puzzle? Lots. Among the 79 butterflies depicted in this otherwise lovely portrait, I’ve found no fewer than 14 errors. The puzzle is basically the natural science equivalent of fake news.

I noticed this wreckage of fact after some friends assembled the puzzle on Monhegan Island this fall. I snapped a quick photo of the box cover (below). So now, during these shortest days of the year, I bring you butterfly light — and the enlightenment of accuracy. (It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to get to before year’s end.)

Some of the puzzle’s errors or misrepresentations are subject to debate. Most are no-brainers. Whoever can list the most blunders in here wins (as usual in my What’s This? challenges) fame, no fortune whatsoever, and $5 off any of my outings or workshops.

Added December 20: As I had expected, Sue Cloutier and Nick Block are our winners. Sue might have found a mistake that Nick and I each missed: what seems to be a Southern Dogface instead of the labelled Orange Sulfur (it’s a close call on that one, but I’ll go with Sue on it). I now think Nick’s right: probably not quite right for Southern Dogface.

Below you’ll find the original image on the left and my corrected version on the right. Anything crossed out with an “X” has no business in New England; most of those are more likely to be found in Florida. Nor will they even be “exotic” — a designation included in the title by the puzzle company (Heritage Puzzle Inc.) perhaps as an afterthought to cover its butterfly blunders. The blue font corrects erroneously named butterflies. And that faint red X, covering Melissa Arctic, is because that is in large part a western montane butterfly — except for subspecies found in eastern Canada and here in New England only on Mt. Washington. Shame on Heritage Puzzle Inc. for not listing that subspecies (Oeneis melissa semidea).

For even more fakery, see my post on rapper Kendrick Lamar and a mutant butterfly.

  1. Hi Michael,

    Gosh, sorry — I’ve can’t be of any help here. I can’t say there are any regional (or regionally accurate) butterfly puzzles. At least none that I’m aware of. Maybe someone needs to create them!


  2. Michael Sheridan says:

    What butterfly puzzle do you recommend for New England?

  3. Sue Cloutier says:

    We get Ocola Skippers here in MA.

  4. Nick Block says:

    I think it looks fine for a female Orange Sulphur. Southern Dogface would show more pointed forewings and a different black pattern.

  5. Nick Block says:

    LOL, I didn’t think it was too bad at all until I realized it was supposed to be New England butterflies only! The IDs are almost all correct, but yeah, not so much on the locations. It’s like a mix of New England and Florida!

    Wrong IDs:
    -Question Mark is an American Lady

    Not found in New England:
    -Little Metalmark
    -Phaon Crescent
    -Tropical Checkered-Skipper
    -Silver-banded Hairstreak
    -“Southern” Oak Hairstreak
    -Yucca Giant-Skipper
    -Palmetto Skipper
    -Monk Skipper
    -Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper
    -Southern Pearly-eye
    -Golden-banded Skipper
    -“Sweadner’s” Juniper Hairstreak
    -Cloudless Sulphur

  6. I’ll start. The Question Mark is a Painted Lady.

  7. Sue Cloutier says:

    Fun! I think there are two incorrect IDs, the American Lady being called a Question Mark and the Southern Dogface being called an Orange Sulfur. The other errors are out of range butterflies for New England (better looked for in Florida!); Salt Marsh Skipper, Yucca Giant-Skipper, Palmetto Skipper, ‘Southern’ Oak Hairstreak, Silver-banded Hairstreak, Lace-winged Roadside Skipper, Southern Pearly-eye, Golden-banded Skipper, Sweadner’s Juniper Hairstreak, Tropical Checkered Skipper, Phaon Checkerspot, and Little Metalmark.

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