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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Godart's Agrias
Agrias claudina  GODART, 1824
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Tribe - PREPONINI
Agrias claudina lugens, Satipo, Peru Tony Hoare
Introduction
The Charaxinae are represented in the neotropics by 2 tribes - the Anaeini, which includes Consul, Memphis, Anaea, Polygrapha, Coenophlebia, Fountainea, Zaretis, Hypna and Siderone; and the Preponini, which includes Anaeomorpha, Archaeoprepona, Prepona, Noreppa and Agrias.
There are 5 Agrias species, and numerous subspecies. The uppersides are rarely glimpsed as the butterflies always feed and rest with their wings firmly closed, but if disturbed they will sometimes give a very rapid flick of the wings, exposing the glorious upperside. In claudina the upperside is dark brown with vivid crimson patches on the forewings. In croesus a smaller patch of the same colour is repeated on the hindwings. The most beautiful subspecies is sardanapalus, in which the hindwings instead are adorned with a large patch of brilliant metallic blue.
Agrias are one of an extremely small number of butterflies which have been known to hybridise with other genera in the wild - a taxon named Prepona x sarumani was described by Smart in 1976, and is believed to be a hybrid between Prepona praeneste abrupta x Agrias claudina lugens. It was captured at Rio Huallaga, Peru. Fruhstorfer recognised the very close relationship between Prepona and Agrias, and some authors e.g. DeVries question whether the 2 genera are distinct. The current taxonomical "bible" - the Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera ( Lamas, 2004 ) regards the 2 genera as being distinct, and recognises the hybrid under the name given to it by Smart.
Males of all Agrias species have prominent yellow tufts of androconial scales on the hindwings, that disseminate pheromones to entice females to copulate.
 

Agrias claudina, male with androconial tufts displayed
 
Agrias claudina is distributed from Venezuela and Guyana to Bolivia.
Habitats
This species is found in deciduous and evergreen forest at altitudes between about 200-600m.
Lifecycle
The eggs are smooth, globular and laid singly on leaves of the foodplants. The caterpillar when fully grown is olive brown, plump, and tapers toward the posterior which is adorned with a pair of twisted caudal tails. The neck is narrow, and the head is very large in proportion to the body.
All Agrias sp are thought to feed on Erythroxylum ( Erythroxylaceae ). There are also unconfirmed records of Myrtaceae and Quiinaceae being used. The larvae feed nocturnally, and rest by day on twigs of the foodplants. The chrysalis is pale green, rotund, with a dorsal hump, and tapers sharply toward the stout cremaster and the bifid head. It is suspended from a stem or leaf of the foodplant.
Adult behaviour

The butterflies spend most of their lives high in the canopy, and are normally only observed if they are attracted to decomposing fruit, rotting fish, or other bait laid along forest tracks or trails. They are only active in hot conditions.

 

 

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