Friday, 21 November 2008

An admiral

To quote from my Braby*, the Yellow Admiral butterflies Vanessa itea 'fly rapidly and frequently settle, with head directed downwards and wings outspread or closed, on leaves or tree-trunks'. Which is exactly what the one I photographed is doing. I think this is a female.
Aren't reference books great?

*The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia, Michael F Braby


mick said...

Why is it called a Yellow Admiral when I can't see any yellow on it? Sorry if this is a "silly" question - but I learn from blogs like yours!

Boobook said...

Hi Mick, good question. I have no idea but this is what Wikipedia says:
The Royal Navy has had Vice and Rear Admirals since at least the 16th century. When in command of the fleet, the Admiral would either be in the lead or the middle portion of the fleet. When the Admiral commanded from the middle portion of the fleet his deputy, the Vice Admiral, would be in the leading portion or van. Below him was another admiral at the rear of the fleet, called Rear Admiral.

In Elizabethan times the fleet grew large enough to be organized into squadrons. The admiral’s squadron wore a red ensign, the vice admiral’s white, and the rear admiral’s blue. As the squadrons grew, each was eventually commanded by an Admiral (with Vice Admirals and Rear Admirals commanding sections) and the official titles became Admiral of the White, et cetera.

The squadrons ranked in order Red, White, and Blue, with admirals ranked according to their squadron:

Admiral of the Fleet
Admiral of the Red
Admiral of the White
Admiral of the Blue
Vice Admiral of the Red
Vice Admiral of the White
Vice Admiral of the Blue
Rear Admiral of the Red
Rear Admiral of the White
Rear Admiral of the Blue
Promotion up the ladder was in accordance with seniority in the rank of Post-Captain, and rank was held for life, so the only way to get promoted was for the person above you on the list to die or resign. Another way was to promote unsuccessful captains to the rank of admiral without distinction of squadron (a practice known as yellowing—the Captain so raised became known as a yellow admiral).