The British and Japanese subspecies of the cabbage butterfly, Pieris rapae, differ in terms of the UV reflectance of their wings (Obara and Majerus, 2000). We studied the biogeographical distribution of the female cabbage butterfly having wings with UV reflectance around the Eurasian continent, and between Britain and Japan. For the study, we collected specimens from various locations. A gradient in the UV reflectance of the wings appears to exist along the west-east axis; reflectance was higher toward the east and reached a peak in butterflies in Japan. The UV-reflecting Japanese subspecies Pieris rapae crucivora was found exclusively along the east coast of the Eurasian continent. This suggests that the Japanese subspecies has evolved from a continental ancestor, with females having UV-absorbing wings. We discuss the results of our study with regard to the evolution and adaptive significance of UV coloration in the Japanese subspecies.
ultraviolet wing color