Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - LIMENITIDINI
Adelpha erotia, Ecuador
© Tony Hoare
are colloquially known as 'Sisters'. In terms of appearance they are
reminiscent of the White Admirals ( Limenitis
) of Eurasia, and share with them a fondness for flitting gracefully
around the lower branches of trees in the dappled sunlight of the
There are 85 known species of
Adelpha, all except two of which are
confined to Central and South America. The butterflies are
characterised by having a distinctive blackish marbled pattern
overlaid on a brown ground colour; and by the presence of a broad
orange or white band on the forewings. The hindwings of most species
have a white median band.
While it is easy to
recognise the genus, determining the individual species can
sometimes be very difficult - a problem exacerbated by misidentified
or mislabelled specimens in certain entomological books. The only
reliable identification resource is "The genus Adelpha" by Keith
Willmott. Accurate identification requires careful examination of
the configuration of orange markings in the subapical area on the
forewing. In most cases it is also essential to examine the
patterning on the undersides, by which means otherwise similar
species can be distinguished.
is commonest in Colombia, but it's range extends from Mexico to Peru
This species breeds in primary and disturbed rainforest habitats at
altitudes between sea level and about 1200m.
have no data specific to erotia. The
following generalisations apply to the genus
Adelpha: The eggs of most species are white or pale green,
and are laid singly on leaves of the foodplants which include
Rubiaceae, Moraceae, Urticaceae, Verbenaceae, Melastomaceae,
Bombacaceae, Ulmaceae, Piperaceae, Tiliaceae or Ericaceae according
to species. The young larvae nibble away at the tips of leaves,
leaving the midrib projecting. They construct a chain of frass along
the midrib and rest at the end of it. The frass chains appear to act
as a deterrent to ants, spiders and parasitoids which find it
difficult to walk on them. When fully grown the larvae are
cryptically coloured and resemble bird droppings, mossy twigs or
bits of curled up dead leaf. They have 2 rows of conspicuous spines
along their backs, those on the first two segments being enlarged
and directed forward, while the third pair are directed backward.
The pupae, which are suspended by the cremaster, are in some species
green or brown, while others are entirely silver, and shiny. The
pupae of some species are decorated with numerous spikes and
projections, and sometimes have very prominent palpi.
usually seen singly, or in two's and three's, perching on sunlit
foliage in the forest.
Males often visit damp ground to
imbibe mineral rich water. They will also settle on rocks, where they
exude water from the tip of the abdomen, depositing it on the rock,
and then re-imbibing it, and by this method are able to extract
dissolved minerals from the rocks.