DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Fauna- BUTTERFLIES  

 

They seem to be everywhere, flitting through the neotropics, closely followed by legions of admirers and photographers, not to mention collectors.  Under all this attention, taxonomists have had a great time splitting species and defining a bewildering array of subspecies.  And indeed, many species of butterflies have obliged by being wide ranging and of variable appearance.  The most usual translation of butterfly in Spanish is Mariposa, and here are a few varieties from the order Lepidoptera in Mesoamerica.

 

  Surely one of the most famous butterflies is the Blue Morpho.  There are several species, this being apparently Morpho peleides.  It is actually quite rare for them to land with their wings open. Click to see big picture (640x429 pixels; 101 KB)
  Generally one sees a blue morpho flashing its colors as it flies, but when it lands it tends to fold its wings, mimicking a dead leaf with eyes to scare off any predators which are not deceived by the camouflage.  Click to see big picture (640x385 pixels; 80 KB)
  Hence most people get a good look at a Blue Morpho, only when it has been mounted and pinned to a display, typically for sale to tourists. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 80 KB)
  When it comes to using fake eyes, the Owl Butterflies are the experts, at least in the Neotropics. Their real eyes are also a bit strange. There are several species, this seems to be Caligo atreus, which ranges from Mexico to Peru.  They often show up at bird feeders where fruit is offered. Click to see big picture (640x331 pixels; 88 KB)
  An unusual and striking encounter with Fruhstorfer's Owl Butterfly in the Canal Zone of Panama.  The range of Caligo oedipus fruhstorferi is not clear.
  From the highlands of Colombia, this seems to be the Tawny Owl, Caligo memnon, which again may be found from Mexico to the Amazon. Click to see big picture (558x480 pixels; 96 KB)
  More fake eyes, one might think that the predators would clue in. This time it is Junonia coenia, the Buckeye butterfly, which is found as far north as Canada, but migrates to southern Mexico. buckeye butterfly
  Astraptes fulgerator goes by names such as the Blue Flasher or Two Bar Flasher.  As a sort of species complex, it graces the forests from the southern U.S. to northern Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x440 pixels; 88 KB)
  In Mexico, the giant Black Witch Moth (Ascalapha odorata) is considered a harbinger of death.  It ranges down to Brazil, however, with other names and receptions and may be migratory.  This one is a female, resident in the Darien of Panama. Click to see big picture (564x480 pixels; 74 KB)
  It is known as the Banded Peacock Butterfly and Anartia fatima ranges from the southern U.S. to Panama.  Here is an inside and outside view from the Maihuatlan Range in southwestern Mexico. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 58 KB)
  And here, at the other end of its range, are Banded Peacocks near Zamboa, in Panama.
  The White Peacock Butterfly (Anartia jatrophae) is encountered widely in the Neotropics.  Those three black dots are fairly distinctive.
  Adelpha fessonia is sometimes known as the Mexican Sister butterfly, although its range extends southward to Panama. Click to see big picture (460x480 pixels; 96 KB)
  Another of the many Adelpha "sisters", from high in the Maihuatlan Mountains of southwestern Mexico.  I can't seem to find a match for the distinct markings.
  Another unidentified from Costa Rica.  Some forms of the variable Doris Longwing look a bit like this.  Click to see big picture (640x420 pixels; 136 KB)
  Two views of Agraulis vanillae, known as the Gulf Fritillary, in its wings-closed position.  It is also known as the Passion Butterfly, as its larvae become poisonous by feasting on passion flower. Click to see big picture (640x400 pixels; 130 KB)
  A Gulf Fritillary with wings open.  They get this name from the feat of migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.  However, they may be seen in open areas from the United States to Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x470 pixels; 93 KB)
  And this appears to be a somewhat albino example of the Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar, wandering in the Darien Province of eastern Panama.
  A Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) which ranges from the southern U.S. to Costa Rica.  This had gotten a little farther, being captive at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in Panama.  Some examples have a yellow color instead of white. Click to see big picture (640x425 pixels; 154 KB)
  Heliconius charithonia is called the Zebra Longwing for obvious reasons.  Found from Mexico to Ecuador, it lives mainly on passionflower nectar and is one of the few butterflies that roosts in colonies. Click to see big picture (640x453 pixels; 89 KB)
  Heliconius charithonia vazquezae is the Mexican Zebra Longwing, although it strays into the southern U.S.    Here it is busy in Copalita Park on the Pacific coast of southwestern Mexico.
  Butterflies of this type tend to go by the name of Postman, for some unobvious reason.  Click to see big picture (640x447 pixels; 85 KB)
  Alas there are several species of Postman with similar appearances in the Neotropics.  This might be either Heliconius erato petiverana or it mimic Heliconius melpomene rosina. Click to see big picture (640x472 pixels; 85 KB)
  Some clearer views of Heliconius erato petiverana in Panama.  One would need to see the full underwing to tell it from its mimic.  Also known as the Erato Heliconian.
  Same color pattern, but short wings.  From Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x417 pixels; 78 KB)
  This appears to be the Tiger Longwing, Heliconius hecale in Columbia.  It ranges from Mexico to Peru.  This is actually a complex of subspecies. Click to see big picture (640x458 pixels; 77 KB)
  Heliconius hecale melicerta is found mainly in Panama and is moderately distinctive.  Photo from the Darien Province of eastern Panama.
  Heliconius ismenius in another complex and variable species, this one in the Panama Canal Zone is likely one of them.  They range from Mexico to northern South America.
  Another longwing butterfly in Colombia, which looks even more like a tiger. Click to see big picture (377x480 pixels; 59 KB)
  The Tiger Glassywing, Tithorea tarricina, is poisonous, so several species try to mimic it.  This is Lycorea halia, known as the Tiger Mimic Queen. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 79 KB)
  A very attractive four-colored butterfly pauses in Nicaragua.  It appears to be Chlosyne hippodrome, a resident of Central America. This genus is known as Checkerspots. Click to see big picture (348x480 pixels; 51 KB)
  Dryadula phaetusa is known as the Banded Orange Heliconian or the Orange Tiger.  From Mexico to Brazil, it may be seen searching for its twin foods of nectar and bird droppings. Click to see big picture (583x480 pixels; 96 KB)
  Another view of the Orange Tiger from the Panama Canal Zone.  The rather faded or indistinct bandings indicate that this is a female.
  The Amathea Butterfly, Anartia amathea, is usually a redder color than this specimen, explaining the alternate name of Scarlet Peacock.   It is here in Panama, at the northern end of its range which extends to Argentina. Click to see big picture (488x480 pixels; 72 KB)
  One more orange butterfly.  Siproeta epaphus is known as the Rusty Tipped Page through Central and tropical South America. Click to see big picture (613x480 pixels; 93 KB)
  The striking Malachite Butterfly (Siproeta stelenes) shares the same genus and the same range as the Page.  It enjoys a varied diet, including nectar, rotting fruit and animals, and bat dung. Click to see big picture (640x478 pixels; 84 KB)
  This is likely a form of Marpesia chiron, known as the Many Banded Daggerwing.  It is found through much of Latin America, here in southwestern Mexico.
  This is one of the Calico Butterflies, best known as Crackers. The latter name is due to a noise made by the males, which may be heard from the southern U.S. to Brazil.  The latin handle is Hamadryas feronia. Click to see big picture (586x480 pixels; 92 KB)
  The amazing clearwing butterflies of Central America.  This one in Panama is the Nero Clearwing, Greta nero.  Clear wings are an ultimate form of camouflage. Click to see big picture (564x480 pixels; 86 KB)
  This handsome clearwing goes by the name of Pseudohaeterea hypaesia, found from Columbia to Bolivia. Photo from Wildsumaco Reserve, Ecuador.
  Urania leilus, an Ecuadorian species of Urania Moth, here at the Jatun Sasha reserve near the town of Tena.
  A green hawkmoth resting in the El Dorado Reserve in northeastern Colombia.  Looks like Xylophanes columbiana (by comparison to X. elara from farther south.  X. rhodoclora looks similar, but is likely out of range.
  Although not colorful, this moth from the Cissia genus has a pair of false eyes on its lower wings to scare of predators. 
  From the Nemoria genus.  Green is a good camouflage on vegetation, but it does not work well on wood.
  Top and undersides of a moth of the Agylla genus, clinging to a window of El Dorado Lodge, in the Santa Marta Range of northeastern Colombia.
  Pantherodes Colubraria, an Ecuadorian version of the Leopard Moth, landing without fear on both skin and clothing in the Papallacta Valley.
  Is it a moth or a fly?  Judging by the antenna, I will go with the former. With a metallic sheen on the body and red eyes? it is probing our auto dashboard without much success.
  Some of the larger caterpillars also deserve attention.  This one at altitude above Papallacata Hotsprings looks benign, but I suspect that those festoons of hairs pack a defensive punch.  They are typical of Saturnid Moth caterpillars.
  And this is a classical Saturnid Moth, Rothschildia orizaba equitorialis by name, on a flower in the valley of the upper Napo River, Ecuador.
  Heliconius clysonymus spreads its wings on a Melastoma leaf at the Wildsumaco Reserve in Ecuador.  The species is found from here to Costa Rica.
  Near the town of Sumaco in Ecuador, a Telesiphe Longwing (Heliconius telesiphe) checks out the coloring on some plastic bottles.  This is a species of the andean cloud forests.
  This appears to be the aglaope subspecies of the extremely variable Heliconius melpomene.  It is examining a spotting scope at Wildsumaco Lodge in the foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes.
  An unusual amassing of caterpillars near the town of Tena in Ecuador.
  This is a caterpillar of the Mimallonidae family.  It has made a shelter from leaves which it carries with it, as it munches vegetation at Omaere Etnobotanical Park, Puyo, Ecuador.
  This tricolor caterpillar in the Darien of Panama is of the Parides genus, and will turn into one of the Cattleheart Butterflies.
  Dione juno is a species found though much of the Neotropics, going by names such as Juno Silverspot and Juno Longwing.  This one is somewhat beaten up.
  Hesperocharis sp. is as close as I can get to this black-fringed and blue bodied butterfly in eastern Panama.
  There are three longtail butterflies in Panama, and I believe that this is the Plain Longtail, Urbanus simplicius.
  While this is likely Urbanus teleus, the Teleus Longtail, but no guarantees.  It is widespread in the Neotropics.
  The Luna Satyr Butterfly (Pierella luna) ranges from southern Mexico to Colombia, here on Barro Colorado Island, Panama.  It is noted for its large hindwings, and for its ability to produce green flashes using refraction in the scales of its forewings.
  Diphthera festiva is known as the Hieroglyphic Moth in view of its unusual markings.  It ranges from the southern U.S. to Brazil, but is mainly reported from the northern Neotropics.  This one was attracted to a light at Filo Tallo Resort in the Darien of Panama.
  Another unusual moth attracted to that light is Xanthropastis timais, best known as the Spanish Moth.  It is found from the southeastern U.S. to Colombia.