Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - HESPERIIDAE
tribe - PYRRHOPYGINI
© Adrian Hoskins
subfamily Pyrrhopyginae comprises 163 species, most of which are
confined to the Neotropics, although a few occur in Mexico, and a
Pyrrhopyginae are characterised by having a massive muscular thorax
and a conical abdomen with compressed segments. The wings of most
species are black, often with a metallic blue sheen, and are swept
back, half covering the hindwings when the butterflies settle.
Several genera, including
Jemadia and Elbella have a
pattern of hyaline windows on the forewings, and are marked with
stripes and bands of metallic blue and white. Most of the 10
Jemadia and 22
Elbella species are very similar, but the shape and
configuration of the hyaline windows and blue streaks is slightly
different in each species.
occurs east of the Andes from Guyana to Peru.
This species appears to be restricted to primary rainforest at
altitudes between about 200-800m.
The butterflies are strongly
associated with riparian habitats, and rarely seen away from rivers or
Males can be found either singly
or aggregating with other Jemadia species
in groups of 3 or 4, imbibing mineralised moisture on sandbanks. They
tend to settle very close to the river's edge, often in shaded or
semi-shaded spots, typically half hidden in the shade of logs on the
shore of shallow beaches.
Once settled and feeding they are
very reluctant to move, and seem oblivious of human presence. Although
they seem very lethargic, they are capable of taking to the air with
incredible speed, flying in short rapid bursts, circling and weaving
around tree tops so quickly that it is impossible to follow them by
Peru © Adrian