Saturday, 30 January 2010

Butterflies of Bristol 13: More newcomers

A few new species have just come in and are awaiting emergence in the butterfly house. If you are a regular visitor, drop by and see if you can find them…

Heliconius doris

H.doris has four named subspecies, ours is the Costa Rican H.doris viridis. In addition to the sub-specific differences, populations are polymorphic in parts of their range, with the upper side of the hind wing being blue, green, or red. The larvae are gregarious and feed on Passiflora vines in the subgenus Granadilla – P.acuminata, P. serratodigitata and P. laurifolia are recorded.

Hypna clytemnestra

The Leafwing butterfly gets its name from its mimicry of dead leaves – a common camouflage method among many butterflies. A member of the nymphalid tribe Anaeini, it is essentially a Neotropical equivalent of the African Charaxes butterflies, to which subfamily (Charaxinae) the Anaeini belongs. Most of the group, as might be expected, are found in Central and South America, but some species range into the southern United States. The reported food plant of Hypna is Croton.

Consul fabius

The Tiger Leafwing is another Neotropical member of the Charaxinae, and like many forest butterflies has an underside that mimics a dead leaf. The upper side is vividly marked to advertise that it is distasteful to predators. Males spend most of their time in the canopy, only coming down to feed or bask, which they mostly do in the morning at heights of five to fifteen metres. Females descend to the under story at midday to look for the Piper vines that are the food plant, and lay their eggs singly. The larva makes a shelter from a rolled up leaf, where it spends most of its time.

Archaeoprepona demophon

The One-spotted Prepona is a Nymphalid butterfly with a range extending from Mexico to Brazil. There are at least seven other species in this genus, which are all distinguished by their Morpho-like iridescent blue bands on the upper side of the wings. They can be told from the common Morphos in the butterfly house by their paler, unspotted undersides. They are not however especially closely related – the group of Nymphalids they belong to is placed in the Charaxinae rather than the Satyrinae which contains the Morphos. The larva feeds on Annona (Custard Apple).

Myscelia cyaniris

The Blue Wave or Whitened Bluewing butterfly is a Nymphalid belonging to the Biblidinae, a group of mainly tropical butterflies related to the Emperor butterflies Apaturinae, which has one British representative, the Purple Emperor. It is a long lived species, at least six weeks as an adult and probably more, with a range from Mexico to Peru, but which just reaches the Texas border occasionally. It is a fruit rather than nectar feeder, like many forest butterflies. It is fairly unobtrusive, often resting on tree trunks in the understory where its camouflaged underside conceals it from birds. The larval food plants known are Adelia and Dalechampia, both members of the Euphorbiaceae.

Papilio thoas

The Thoas swallowtail has a range from Brazil to southern Texas, with occasional records further north. In the tropics it flies year round, further north it flies from April to July. Like most swallowtails, it is a flower rather than a fruit feeder, and is particularly fond of Lantana flowers. As with many swallowtails, the food plants are various members of the Citrus family Rutaceae, including Ruta and Zanthoxylum as well as Citrus. The larva mimics a bird dropping.

(Images from Wikipedia, tolweb, and El Bosque Nuovo butterfly farm)

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