Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - BIBLIDINAE
Tribe - CALLICORINI
hystaspes zelphanta, Rio Pindayo, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
There are about 20 species in the genus
Callicore, all of which bear
distinctive and graphic patterns on the underside hindwings, often
resembling numbers or letters of the alphabet. The uppersides of all
species are blackish, marked on the forewings with bright red or
orange bands. The hindwings of several species also have red or
orange markings but in most species they are plain black, with a
very reflective brilliant blue sheen.
Unfortunately these beautiful butterflies are
killed in vast numbers for their wings which are used by the
souvenir trade for the production of decorated plates, jewellery,
place mats and other trivia.
In hystaspes the
upperside forewings of the male are black, with a broad red diagonal
swathe, and a cream crescent at the apex. The basal area of the
forewings, and the outer third of the hindwings are both metallic
blue. The female is similar but paler in colour, and has more
species is found in the upper Amazonian regions of Brazil, Ecuador
and Peru. The Peruvian sub-species is known as
at altitudes between circa 200-800m.
In common with other members of the genus, this species is
frequently found close to habitations.
I have no
information specific to hystaspes. In
most Callicore species the eggs are
white, and are laid singly on Serjania,
Allophylus or other Sapindaceae.
often visit sandbanks to imbibe dissolved minerals from urine-soaked
ground, and can often be seen in one's and two's on river sandbanks or
in the vicinity of habitations in forested areas.