Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Helios Blue Ringlet
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
subtribe - EUPTYCHIINA
Caeruleuptychia helios, Pantiacolla, Rio Alto Madre de Dios,
Peru © Adrian
There are 1100 known species of Satyrinae in the neotropical region.
About 400 of these are placed in the Euptychiina. Butterflies within
this tribe include the "ringlet" genera
Magneuptychia, Harjesia etc;
together with Oressinoma and the
various "wood nymph" genera i.e. Parataygetis,
Taygetis. Most are inhabitants of the forest understorey and
tend to fly close to the ground. They generally avoid sunlight and
prefer to fly at dawn or on cloudy days when light levels and
temperatures are low.
recently almost all of the "ringlets" were placed in the genus
but revisions by Forster and Lamas divide this "convenience" genus
into a number of smaller genera, on the basis of anatomical
differences and larval foodplants. There are 42
species of "blue ringlets", now variously allocated to the genera
Distinguishing between the 25 species of
Caeruleuptychia is largely a matter of noting differences in
the number and size of the ocelli on the underside hindwings, which
are generally constant in each species.
species appears to be confined to Amazonian areas of southern Peru
occurs in tropical rainforest at elevations between about 200-900m.
I have no data regarding any
Caeruleuptychia species, but the
lifecycle will probably be similar to that of
Chloreuptychia, as described below :
The egg is globular and shining white.
Chloreuptychia lay their eggs singly on
Oplismenus and Ichnanthus
( Poaceae )
where these grasses grow around the base of
fully grown the larva is mottled in shades of brown, and has a row
of diamond-shaped marks along the back. It's head is black with a
pair of short horns that bear auxiliary spines. The tip of the
abdomen bears a pair of caudal prongs. In common with almost all
other Satyrine larvae, it feeds nocturnally. The pupae of
are wedge-shaped, mottled in shades of brown, and are formed
attached by the cremaster to a stem, projecting horizontally.
The butterflies inhabit the understorey, and are usually only seen
along the darker and narrower trails.
They don't visit flowers
but feed instead at decomposing fungi and bird droppings. Most of the
time they sit motionless on leaves in the shade, and if disturbed they
generally fly a distance of no more than 3 or 4 metres, and then
It is likely that the wings reflect high levels of ultra-violet,
enabling the butterflies to locate potential mates visually in the
dark environment where they breed.
The vertical lines on the
underside are an example of disruptive colouration. They help break up
the outline of the wings into separate shapes, making it more
difficult for a bird to detect the butterfly.
If however a bird succeeds
in discovering where it has settled, the butterfly has a secondary
defence in the form of the ocelli on the underside hindwings. These
function to divert attacks away from the butterfly's vulnerable body,
allowing it to escape with nothing worse than a pecked wing.