Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - LIMENITIDINI
Adelpha serpa celerio, Tatama NP, Colombia
© Adrian Hoskins
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 serpa is distributed across
most of the neotropical region from Mexico to Brazil.
This species is found in rainforest and cloudforest, at elevations
between about 300-2000m.
Adelpha serpa celerio, Tatama NP,
Colombia © Adrian
have no data specific to serpa. 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.
Males are usually encountered
singly. They often visit damp ground or rocks to imbibe mineral rich