Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - COEINI
© Adrian Hoskins
The tribe Coeini comprises of 6 genera -
There are 2 Colobura species -
both found throughout the neotropical region.
Colobura dirce can be distinguished
from annulata by the wider submarginal
band on it's underside forewing, and by the slightly different
The butterflies habitually sit on the tree trunks in a head
downwards posture, at a height of about 2 metres, to imbibe sap and
moisture from crevices in the bark. If approached they sometimes try
to evade the intruder by running around to the opposite side of the
tree, and if followed will run back to their original position -
quite literally forcing the observer to run around in circles after
them. They are extremely reluctant to take flight when feeding, and
if they are forced to do so they quickly return to resume feeding.
Colobura dirce is distributed from
Mexico to Argentina.
The butterfly breeds in primary and secondary forest at altitudes
between 0-1400m but is found more frequently at altitudes below
800m. It is found in both deciduous and evergreen forests, and also
commonly occurs in orchards.
The eggs are
white and laid in groups of between 2-10 on leaves of the foodplant.
The young larvae feed on
leaves and make "frass chains" i.e. chains of droppings linked
together by strands of silk, which protrude from the tips of the
leaves. When not feeding they rest on these frass chains, which
provide them with a defence against marauding ants. For reasons that
are not fully understood, ants seem unwilling to walk over frass
When fully grown the larvae are
velvety black, adorned with white rosetted spines along the back,
and yellow spines along the sides. They feed gregariously in groups
of between 5-20. When feeding they bite through the stems, causing
alleochemics ( anti-herbivore fluids ) to bleed from the plant, and
stopping it from mobilising chemicals into the area being eaten.
pupa, as described by DeVries is elongate, cylindrical, and looks
like a dead broken twig.
commonly visit orchards or other sites where there are fallen fruits.
They are also sometimes imbibe urine from sandbanks. They usually hold
their wings erect but on a few occasions I've seen them walking about
under the shade of trees, while slowly fanning their wings.
sexes are commonly encountered within shady forest, often in company
sitting on tree trunks.
They habitually settle in a head-downwards position with the wings
held erect, while imbibing moisture from mosses or from crevices in
the bark. I have also found them on walls, concrete
bridge supports etc, and they will also settle on sources of human
sweat such as the straps of rucksacks or camera bags. Sometimes they
are found singly, but more often in groups of 2 or 3.
© Adrian Hoskins