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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Acraea Mimic
Castilia perilla  HEWITSON, 1852
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - MELITAEINI
subtribe - PHYCIODINA

Castilia perilla, form acraeina, Pantiacolla, Rio Alto Madre de Dios, Peru Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The tribe Melitaeini is of worldwide distribution. It includes the Crescents and Checkerspots of North America, and many familiar European species such as the Marsh, Spotted and Heath Fritillaries.
Castilia are very closely related to Eresia, Anthanassa and Janatella, so closely in fact that these genera can only be distinguished by microscopic examination of the male genitalia.
The 13 Castilia species fall into 2 distinct groups. The first group includes ofella, myia and angusta, all of which have whitish spots on the forewings and a broad white or creamy median band on the hindwings. These markings are repeated on the underside which is yellowish and has a series of crescents around the hindwing margins. The second group includes castilla, northbrundii, neria and perilla, all of which have blackish wings marked with patches of orange. The under surface of their hindwings is dark brown, with the veins  picked out in black. These butterflies are very convincing Batesian mimics of Altinote species. The latter are toxic / unpalatable to birds, so the similarity of markings undoubtedly provides the Castilia species with a degree of protection against predation.
Castilia perilla occurs in several different colour forms, and it is quite common to find two or more forms of this species flying at any given site. Each form mimics a different Altinote or Abananote species, e.g. acraeina is a mimic of Altinote negra euclia, and aricilla mimics Abananote erinome.
The butterfly is common and widely distributed in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.
Castilia perilla, Satipo, Peru Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
Castilia perilla is found in the rainforests of the upper Amazon and the Andean foothills, at altitudes between 100-900m.
Lifecycle
The eggs of Castilia species are laid in batches of between 30-80 on the underside of leaves of the foodplants. They are laid in layers, a defence strategy that ensures that the bottom layer cannot be parasitised by Trichogrammatid wasps. The topmost eggs hatch first. The larvae then immediately eat their egg-shells, allowing those from the lower layers to hatch.
Castilia larvae feed gregariously on Acanthaceae, spinning a thin silk web over the leaves. In the early instars they eat only the leaf tissue, and skeletonise the leaves so that only the midrib, veins and cuticle remain. They are described by DeVries as being covered with dense bristles and with each segment bearing fleshy protuberances.
Adult behaviour

Males are usually seen singly flying in forest edge habitats, or imbibing mineralised moisture from road surfaces, river beaches, dry riverbeds or peccary wallows. They usually keep their wings fully outspread when feeding. Both sexes nectar at the flowers of Justicia and other Acanthaceae.

 

 

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