Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - MORPHINAE
Tribe - BRASSOLINI
subtribe - BIINA
Bia actorion, Satipo, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
The subfamily Morphinae
includes about 140-150 neotropical species, 93 of which are placed
in the Brassolini, a subtribe whose genera evolved about 40 million
years ago in the late Eocene Period.
Genera included in the
and Caligo. All are
crepuscular or nocturnal in behaviour, although a few species also
fly by day in the darkest areas within their habitats.
is found in the upper Amazon areas of Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and
Bolivia. The only other member of the genus
Bia peruana, as its name suggests is restricted to Peru.
This species is restricted to undisturbed primary rainforest at
altitudes between 0-800 m.
I have no information regarding
the lifecycle of actorion. All other
Brassolini species feed as larvae on monocotyledons, using bamboo,
or palms according to species and it is reasonable to deduce that
has similar habits.
our knowledge grows and the relationships between different
taxa are better understood, it is sometimes necessary for a
species to be reclassified under a different genus, tribe,
subfamily or family.
The most notorious example of this is
which was first described by Linnaeus in 1763 as
and placed in the then all-embracing family Papilionidae. The
later became used only for a particular
group of Swallowtail butterflies, so in 1819 Hübner created a
new genus Bia
to accommodate actorion
and placed it in the family Satyridae.
the late 20th century taxonomists concluded that the
Satyridae, Brassolidae, Amathusiidae, Acraeidae, Heliconiidae
etc should be relegated to become subfamilies within the
For a while
Bia actorion ( a.k.a.
) was retained in the Satyrinae, but further studies
determined that it really belonged to the Brassolinae.
and it's relative
classified as members of the subtribe Biina and placed in the
Brassolini. The Morphini (
Brassolini ( Bia,
etc ), and the Oriental Amathusiini are
now regarded as tribes of equal rank within the Morphinae - a
subfamily of the Nymphalidae.
The adults are
common and widespread. They are usually encountered as singletons
disturbed from rest while the observer is walking along narrow forest
trails. They are said to
feed at decomposing fruit on the forest floor, but all examples I have
seen ( several dozen in total )
have been found at rest on foliage in the understorey or seen in
flight along dark narrow forest tracks.
If disturbed from rest
they invariably fly deep into the undergrowth and remain there until
long after the perceived threat has passed.