Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - LIMENITIDINI
Adelpha irmina, Tatama NP, Colombia
© Adrian Hoskins
Adelpha butterflies are colloquially
known as 'Sisters'. In terms of appearance many 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.
They are characterised by the distinctive black marbled pattern
overlaid on a dark brown ground colour; and by having a broad orange
or white band on the forewings. In the vast majority of species this
band also extends vertically down to the tornus of the hindwings.
While it is easy to
recognise the genus, determining the individual species can
sometimes be very difficult - a problem exacerbated by misidentified
museum specimens and mislabelled illustrations in many entomological
books. The only reliable identification resource is 'The genus
Adelpha' by Keith Willmott. Accurate identification requires
meticulous examination of the configuration of the orange markings
in the subapical area on the forewing, and of the precise shape of
the vertical bands. It is also essential in most cases to examine
the patterning on the underside.
Adelpha irmina can be confused with
several other species including saundersii,
ximena, boreas and
salus. These species are distinguished
from one another by close examination of the pattern formed by the
orange band on the forewings, and by differences in the underside
Adelpha irmina is known from Colombia,
Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.
This species occurs in cloudforest at elevations between about
To be completed.
species is usually encountered as solitary males, seen flitting and
gliding in sunny areas in the vicinity of waterfalls and streams. The
butterflies periodically alight to imbibe moisture from damp ground,
and usually feed with wings outspread or half open.