Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - COEINI
© Adrian Hoskins
large ( wingspan 11cms ) and magnificent butterfly, marked on the
upper surface with a broad swathe of bright orange on a black ground
colour, is one of 12 species in the tribe Coeini, which also
There are only 2 species in the genus
Historis, the other -
acheronta, is a smaller greyish species
which has a group of white subapical spots on each forewing, and
short tails on the hindwings.
The vernacular name Stinky Leafwing, and the
species name odius are probably
references to the odorous rotting fruits to which the butterfly is
Historis odius is a
very widely distributed species, found from Texas to Peru, Bolivia
This species occurs in a wide variety of forested habitats, from the
humid deciduous woodlands of Nicaragua and Guanacaste, to the
rainforests of the Amazon basin and the premontane cloudforests of
the Andes. It occurs at altitudes between sea level and about 1600m.
The egg is pale brown, and laid is singly on the midrib of a leaf of
Cecropia ( Moraceae ), a very common
tree in disturbed habitats.
When small the larva constructs a chain of droppings along the
midrib. The larva rests at the end of this frass-chain, which
extends beyond the tip of a leaf. The chain seems to act as a
tight-rope over which ants will not walk, and thus prevents the
larva from being molested. It probably also deters parasitoid wasps
and flies, making it difficult to oviposit on the larva.
fully grown larva is brown with yellow bands around the segments,
which are adorned with yellowish whorled spines. Another pair of
short whorled spines emerges from the head.
chrysalis is pinkish, and adorned with whorled spines in the
abdominal segments, and bears a pair of horns on the head which are
recurved and appressed to the thorax. It wriggles frantically if
species is usually encountered singly. It is a swift and very powerful
flyer, which swoops down from it's perches high in
Cecropia trees to feed at fermenting
mangos, plantains and other fruits lying on the forest floor.
Both sexes visit fruit, and can be
easily baited with fermenting plantain pasted onto tree trunks in open
glades, orchards and forest edge habitats.
Males are also attracted to damp
rocky overhangs, peccary wallows and
strewn riverbanks, where they imbibe moisture to extract dissolved
settled the wings are held erect, but are flicked open periodically if
the butterfly is nervous. The sudden display of the bright orange
bands on the upperside probably serves as a warning to predators -
orange colouration in butterflies is often an indicator of toxic