DixPix Photographs

     

WESTERN AMAZON

 
     
  BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS  

 

In Spanish, Butterflies are known as Mariposas and  Moths as Polillas or as Heteroceras.  The term Borboleta is common in Brazil.  There is really no clear cut division between moths and butterflies, it is partly a cultural distinction, and many species get called both.  Some say that if it has thin antenna with a knob of thickening on the end, then it is a Butterfly.

Although there are a large number of species in the western Amazon, the dense rainforest is not always the best place to see them.  Most prefer the forest canopy or more open areas, and the ongoing clearing of the forests may be to their advantage.  Many of the duller or smaller moths have likely never been studied.  Some of the Caterpillars in the tropics are even more gaudy then their winged forms.

There are many groups and web sites focusing on butterflies, but most of these are in Europe or North America.  However, amazing photographic compilations for the butterflies, moths and caterpillars of Ecuador have been compiled by Andreas Kay, and are on line here, and www.learnaboutbutterflies.com has a gallery of photos from the Amazon and Andes.

 

Certain moist areas attract great swarms of butterflies of varied species.  These are known as Mineral Licks and they apparently provide something that the insects need.  This one is in the native village of Moncagua on the banks of the Amazon River in Colombia. Click to see big picture (800x482 pixels; 193 KB)
One of the more common species at that lick is known as the Apricot Sulphur, Phoebis argante.   Under several subspecies, it may be found from Mexico and the Caribbean down to Uruguay. Click to see big picture (720x595 pixels; 189 KB)
There are many species that look roughly like this, and go by the general name of Swordtails or locally as Borboleta.  This particular one is known in Lepidopterist circles as the Short-lined Kite-swallowtail, or the equally long winded Protographium agesilaus, Click to see big picture (720x544 pixels; 191 KB)
The Ruby-spotted Swallowtail (Papilio anchisiades) ranges from Texas to Argentina.  This one, however, is captive at the Sacha Reserve, Ecuador. Click to see big picture (720x435 pixels; 81 KB)
This lovely example of Clear-wing (or Glass-wing) Butterflies goes by the taxon of Pseudohaeterea hypaesia.  Its range is not clear, but this one had its portrait taken at the Wildsumaco Reserve in central Ecuador. Click to see big picture (633x600 pixels; 121 KB)
A large moth at Jantun Sacha Reserve is the Ecuadorian (equitorialis) subspecies of Rothschildia orizaba-- the Orizaba Silkmoth.  It is one of the species known as Saturnid Moths. Click to see big picture (800x530 pixels; 121 KB)
A moth trying to look like a leaf, but on the wrong surface.  This appears to be from the Lonomia genus of tropical South America.  This genus produces dull moths, but the most deadly caterpillars, whose venomous hairs have been known to kill humans. Click to see big picture (720x405 pixels; 125 KB)
A large caterpillar from the Calanoa Reserve in Amazonian Colombia.  This appears to be from the Periphoba genus, whose moths are comparatively dull.  Those spines are likely at least irritating. Click to see big picture (603x600 pixels; 157 KB)
Urania leilus is a day flying moth found in tropical South America. This Green-banded Urania is checking out a sidewalk at the Jatun Sacha Center in Ecuador. Click to see big picture (709x600 pixels; 186 KB)
The Blue Banded Morpho (Morpho achilles) is one of many species flashing  brilliant blue patterns.  They are not all of the same Genus.  This one is captive at the Sacha Lodge, Ecuador. Click to see big picture (720x566 pixels; 155 KB)
Another view of a Blue Banded Morpho, at the same Butterfly House, with a somewhat different wing pattern. Click to see big picture (616x600 pixels; 142 KB)
And here is another Morpho, one that is more at home at altitude.   Morpho menelaus goes by the name of Morpho Azul, which just translates back a blue morpho, and is likely used for several species. Click to see big picture (692x600 pixels; 208 KB)
Doxocopa cyane is a lovely species known by names such as the Cyan Emperor in its range from Mexico to Argentina.  This one has alighted near the summit of the Condor Range between Peru and Ecuador. Click to see big picture (528x600 pixels; 192 KB)
Doxocopa linda mileta, near the Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina.  It is the males of this genus that flash blue, females have their own attire such as this.  The species is found from here into Paraguay and southern Brazil, and goes by names such as Linda and Cute.
It is known as the Purple Emporer and Turquoise, and locally as TurquiDoxocopa agathina vacuna is found here near Iguazu in northeastern Argentina, and in adjacent parts of Paraguay and Brazil.
When the Purple Emporer closes its wings, however, it suddenly looks very drab and well camouflaged. 
And this Zaphiro Butterfly (Doxocopa laurentia) refused to be photoraphed with its wings open, which is unfortunate as it is known as the Turquoise Emporer.
Perisama cardases is a rare species of the high cloud forests.  It is here at 2500 meters altitude in the Condor Range, and reported from highlands in Ecuador.  Note that although all these last three species where from a thick forest area, they were attracted to land in open sites or on bright clothing. Click to see big picture (631x600 pixels; 193 KB)
The male Catonephele acontius is known as a Firewing for obvious reasons.  The species is found in Central America and in the tropics of northern South America, here at the Sacha Lodge butterfly house in Ecuador. Click to see big picture (720x533 pixels; 107 KB)
The female Catonephele acontius looks nothing like the male.  The genus also carries the unusual name of Shoemaker Butterflies. Click to see big picture (720x439 pixels; 82 KB)
Dryadula phaetusa, the Banded Orange Heliconia by a pond near the Brazil-Argentina border, where it is known as the Antorcha Rayada.  The species ranges from here to the southern U.S.  This one has a torn wing. 
Even when closed, Dryadula phaetusa is bright and colorful, it does not use this position for camouflage.
Heliconius melpomene malleti is the amazonian subspecies of the Postman Butterflies, which are widespread in the Neotropics. There are several subspecies.  This one near the town of Sumaco in Ecuador is checking out a plastic pipe. Click to see big picture (720x470 pixels; 86 KB)
A Callicore cynosura plastered on a windshield in easternmost Bolivia.  This genus, along with whiter Diaethria, tend to be called "88" Butterflies, although this one looks closer to an "86". Click to see big picture (501x520 pixels; 79 KB)
At Iguazu Park in northeastern Argentina, a Callicore hydaspes checks out humans skin-- for salt?  It is known as a Para Mini, perhaps because it is at home in Paraguay, and adjacent parts of Brazil and Argentina.
A Malachite Butterfly hanging out at the Sacha Lodge Reserve in Ecuador.  Siproeta stelenes is a popular species, which may be found from Texas and the Caribbean to Brazil. Click to see big picture (676x600 pixels; 101 KB)
The Harmonia Tiger-wing (Tithorea harmonia) is another species widespread in the Neotropics, albeit with several subspecies.  This one is again at the butterfly house at Sacha Lodge, Ecuador. Click to see big picture (595x600 pixels; 94 KB)
And here are the remarkable chrysalises of Tithorea harmonia awaiting the next crop of Tiger-wings.  They are known as the Golden Mirror Chrysalis. Click to see big picture (629x378 pixels; 76 KB)
Biblis hyperia is one of the Crimson Banded Blacks of the Red Rim genus.  Here in Iguazu Park of northeastern Argentina, is called Alas Sangrantes (bloody wings).
Chloreuptychia agatha is known as the Agatha Blue Ringlet.  It is a butterfly of the Amazon understory, that feasts on items such as dead fungi and bird droppings. Click to see big picture (666x600 pixels; 125 KB)
More rings or fake eyes, this time from the Idomeneus Giant Owl butterfly (Caligo idomeneus).  This species is mainly found in the Amazon rainforest and adjacent foothills of the Andes, but its genus of "owl" butterflies is widespread. Click to see big picture (455x600 pixels; 99 KB)
Another way of making false eyes is demonstrated by the Blotched Leopard butterfly.  Pantherodes colubraria is native to the western Amazon basin and adjacent Cordillera in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.  Photo from near the town of Baez, Ecuador. Click to see big picture (800x438 pixels; 123 KB)
From the rainforests of the Condor Range between Peru an Ecuador, a butterfly known as a Mapwing is attracted to bright cloth.  Hypanartia  kefersteini has been reported in highlands from Mexico to Peru.  It is betimes called the Red Mapwing, although more orange in color. Click to see big picture (490x600 pixels; 128 KB)
When a mapwing closes its wings it sort of does look like a map.   Hypanartia lethe ranges from Texas to Uruguay, and if it opened it would turn into an Orange Admiral butterfly.
Notheme erota angelus is found in Paraguay and northern Argentina.  This one is resting near the Devil's Throat in Iguazu Falls.  The local name is Rodondita.
A moth of the Automeris genus, drawn to lights at the Calanoa Reserve in the Colombian Amazon.  The fake eyes would be flashed to scare of predators. Click to see big picture (800x479 pixels; 83 KB)
From the same part of the Amazon River, this is a furry and damaged Hypanartia dione, best known as the False Daggerwing.  It ranges from Guatemala to southern Peru.  Some rear assemblages are missing. Click to see big picture (682x600 pixels; 226 KB)
One of the most photographed caterpillars is that of Pseudosphinx tetrio, known locally as Esfingo de Tetrio.  This is a widespread species of Hawkmoth or Sphinx moth, whose larva are known in English as Hornworms. Click to see big picture (623x600 pixels; 177 KB)
And this is a typical dull hawkmoth (or sphinx moth) brought in by the lights of Calanoa Lodge, Colombian Amazon.  Actually not quite typical, it seems to have a pair of horns. Click to see big picture (598x600 pixels; 160 KB)
A Shag Carpet Caterpillar (Tarchon felderi) in Ecuador.  It is native from here north to southern Mexico.
I have no idea what this inhabitant of Amacayacu Park in Amazonian Colombia actually is, but it certainly makes a statement.  I suspect that trying to pick it up or even touching those hairs would be a mistake. Click to see big picture (450x600 pixels; 130 KB)
A butterfly that seems to have been sprinkled with gold dust, checks out at garbage pail at the Calanoa Lodge.  The striped antenna are unusual. Click to see big picture (542x600 pixels; 80 KB)
Another unidentified butterfly tests a ventilation screen at Sacha Lodge of eastern Ecuador. Click to see big picture (720x589 pixels; 205 KB)
This hairy species is checking out a flower in northeasternmost Argentina.  The angular spots on the wings look like shards of broken glass and strong suggest that this is a member of the Myscelus genus.
From the high and thick forests of the Condor Range twixt Ecuador and Peru, this species of rather wild appearance probes the fabric surrounding a tent.  It appears to be something that belongs in the Junea genus. Click to see big picture (651x600 pixels; 158 KB)