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Information on Limenitis glorifica in Japan based on extracts taken from Fukuda et al (1983) and Tanaka (1978), translated with assistance from Akihiro Konuma

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Information on Limenitis glorifica in Japan based on extracts taken from Fukuda et al (1983) and Tanaka (1978), translated with assistance from Akihiro Konuma.

Two closely-related Limenitis (Ladoga) spp. occur in Japan: Limenitis camilla japonica (called the white admiral butterfly in Europe, Ichimonji-cho, in Japan), and Limenitis glorifica (called Asama-ichimonji in Japanese). "Asama" is a name of a mountain in Nagano prefecture, and the name ichimonji, refers to the Kanji character for the number 1 (一) which describes the linear pattern of white spots on the butterflies wings.

Limenitis camilla is widely distributed throughout the Palearctic region (with the nominate subspecies being native to western Europe). Limenitis glorifica is endemic to Japan, where it is widely distributed in Honshu from the western lowlands of Yamaguchi Prefecture to Shimokita Peninsula in the north. The altitudinal distribution limit in central Japan is 1450 m. It normally occurs to c. 1000 m above sea level and most commonly in the lowlands below.

In warm areas of central Honshu, there are usually three generations from mid-May to late September, but in late October a fourth generation can sometime occur. In cold mountainous zones (such as Oku-Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture), there may be only one generation each year. Larval hibernation is induced by short photoperiod (less than 13 to 14 hours light period).

Limenitis glorifica and L. camilla japonica coexist in Japan and both feed on Japanese honeysuckle. Moreover, they are very similar in all life stages although they tend to prefer different habitats. In comparison with the deep forests and valleys preferred by the white admiral (L. camilla), L. glorifica prefers open habitats and willow forest near the banks of rivers. In such places it is often more common than L. camilla. Tanaka (1978) listed L. glorifica host-records from Lonicera japonica, L. caerula var. emphyllocalyx and Weigela coraeensis, but noted that because of the similarities between L. glorifica and L. camilla, confusion regarding host records for these two species in Japan is likely. To investigate the host-ranges of these two butterfly species, Tanaka (1978) performed field surveys and conducted host-range experiments.

The field surveys indicated that L. camilla has a relatively broad host-range (feeding on several Lonicera and Weigela spp.) while L. glorifica was almost exclusively found feeding on L. japonica (60/62 records). Tanaka (1978) reported finding one L. glorifica larva on L. morrowii. However, at another site, adult L. glorifica were found flying in the vicinity of L. morrowii, but no eggs were found. Tanaka (1978) reported that, on one occasion, a female L. glorifica was observed to lay a single egg on a Weigela floribunda plant. However, in contrast to the selection of the adult butterfly, the resultant larva did not feed on Weigela floribunda. Tanaka (1978) noted that the Weigela floribunda plant was growing alongside L. japonica.

Host-range tests were performed by Tanaka (1978), using eggs or first instar larvae collected from L. japonica and transferred to test plants or L. japonica controls (the results are summarised in Table 1).

Table 1. Summary of Tanaka (1978) host-range tests using L. glorifica




Development to adult

Lonicera japonica




Lonicera morrowii



Yes, but adults small or did not expand their wings normally

Lonicera gracillipes



No, but this could have been due to declining host-plant quality

Weigela floribunda

No feeding at all in most replicates

Only one out of ten larvae transferred reached pupation

One very small adult was reared, but only when a 5th instar larva was transferred to W. floribunda

Abelia spathulata




Tanaka (1978) found that larvae fed well on Lonicera japonica, L. morrowii, and Lonicera gracilipes. However, Tanaka noted that larval growth was retarded when feeding on L. morrowii (compared to L. japonica) and the resultant adults were of small size or expanded their wings imperfectly at the time of emergence. This indicated that L. morrowii is a sub-optimal host. Larvae were not reared to adult on Lonicera gracilipes, but Tanaka (1978) stated that this may have been due to declining host-plant quality (the tests were carried out in autumn and L. gracilipes is deciduous).

Tanaka (1978) stated that, generally, larvae did not feed at all on Weigela floribunda, and for the few that did feed, the developmental period was prolonged and the single adult reared was very small-sized. Larvae did not feed on Abelia spathulata at all.

Subsequently Fukuda et al. (1983) reported that L. glorifica feeding tends to be limited to Lonicera japonica but included additional host records from Weigela decora and Lonicera sempervirens. The record from L. sempervirens was considered exceptional [there is no data to determine the veracity of the host record from Weigela decora].

Overall, the results of the field surveys and host-range tests in Japan indicate that the host-range of L. glorifica is confined to the sub-family Caprifolioideae and, potentially, from the sub-family Diervilleoidae of the Caprifoliaceae and it appears to be a Lonicera japonica specialist. Indeed, Tanaka (1978) stated that the distribution of L. glorifica is limited in some regions by the lack of Lonicera japonica. Moreover, there are no host records from most of the seventeen other Lonicera spp. that occur in Honshu (, no host records from Triosteum sinuatum and T. pinnatifidum (sub-family Caprifolioideae), which are both naturalised in Japan. There are no host-records from most Weigela spp. (sub-family Diervilleoidae) that occur in Honshu and the few confirmed records e.g. Tanaka (1978) indicated that Weiglea is a sub-optimal host plant that is rarely oviposited on. There are no host records from Abelia spp. and Linnaea borealis (sub- family Linnaeoideae), which are also native to Japan.

The more distantly-related Adoxaceae is also represented in Japan by the genera Adoxa, Sambucus and Viburnum and there are no host-records from any plant species belonging to these genera.

Notes regarding Landcare Research field surveys in Japan

Field surveys had limited time to sample other related species. Weigela plants (not identified to species) were surveyed, as was Lonicera gracilipes plants growing above Nikko. No L. glorifica eggs/larvae on Weigela or on L. gracilipes growing above Nikko. No eggs were found on Weigela plants growing on the Oshika Peninsula, east of Ishinomaki.


Fukuda H, Hama E, Kuzuya T, Takahashi A, Takahashi M, Tanaka B, Tanaka H, Wakabayashi M, & Watanabe Y. 1983. The life history of butterflies in Japan Vol. II. Hoikusha, Osaka (in Japanese with English summary).

Tanaka B. 1978. Larval food-plants and distribution of Japanese Ladoga (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Trans. Lep. Soc. Jap. 29, 35-45.

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