Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Glittering Mantle
Caria sponsa   STAUDINGER, 1887
subfamily - RIODININAE
Caria sponsa, Satipo, Peru Adrian Hoskins
The genus Caria contains some of the most beautiful and elusive species on Earth. Although fairly common they are rarely seen due to their secretive habits, and are virtually impossible to follow in flight. Once seen these glittering jewels of the Amazon are never forgotten.
Lepidopterists often feel quite overwhelmed by the beauty of these butterflies, but initial feelings of ecstasy are soon replaced by the rapid onset of frustration, anguish, despair and an uncontrollable urge to spend the next 2 hours hawking relentlessly in the vicinity of the sighting, peering into bushes, crawling about on the ground and searching every nook and cranny, while muttering and pleading with the butterfly to reveal itself !
There are 14 Caria species, 5 of which are restricted to Central America, while the others including mantinea and sponsa are found primarily in Amazonia and the foothills of the eastern Andes.
Several of the species including mantinea, plutargus, castalia and smaragdina are almost identical on the upperside. Caria sponsa and chrysame are quite different from these, having the glittering green scales extending uninterrupted across the entire basal area of the forewings, and completely covering the hindwings. These two species can be distinguished from each other by the presence of a thin metallic green post median vertical line in chrysame.
Caria sponsa appears to be confined to eastern Peru and south-east Ecuador.
Caria sponsa, Rio Shima, Satipo, Peru Adrian Hoskins
This species is confined to primary rainforest at altitudes between about 200-600m.
Caria sponsa, Rio Shima, Satipo, Peru Adrian Hoskins
I have no data regarding sponsa but the lifecycle is likely to be very similar to that of other Caria species as follows: The eggs are laid singly under the leaves of Ulmaceae or Bromeliaceae. The caterpillars are densely hairy, and live and feed within rolled leaf tubes.
Caria sponsa, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru Adrian Hoskins
Adult behaviour

The adults probably spend much of their time in the canopy as they are very rarely seen in flight at lower levels, and do not usually bask on low foliage.

They are exceedingly elusive and seen only when they descend to imbibe water from the edges of pools or shallow streams. They tend to suddenly appear out of nowhere, flit about very rapidly over pebbles on the bed of streams, and then vanish completely from sight. Sometimes they settle on boulders or tree trunks, looking from a distance exactly like a tiny patch of moss. It is likely that they also hide away between rocks or within crevices as happens with other Caria species.

Caria sponsa, Rio Shima, Satipo, Peru Adrian Hoskins



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