Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - MORPHINAE
Tribe - BRASSOLINI
Pantiacolla, Rio Alto Madre de Dios, 550m, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
A few decades ago the Owl butterflies were
considered to be members of a now defunct family, the Brassolidae.
Following revisions by Erlich and Ackery all butterflies with only 2
pairs of fully formed walking legs were placed in the Nymphalidae.
The Brassolidae were consequently reduced in rank to a subfamily
Brassolinae, then relegated further to become the Brassolini - a
tribe of the Morphinae.
The Morphinae includes
about 150 neotropical species, 93 of which are placed in the tribe
Brassolini. Of these, 73 are placed in the Brassolina - a subtribe
which includes Blepolenis,
Orobrassolis and Caligo. All are
crepuscular or nocturnal in behaviour although a few species also
fly by day in the darkest areas within their habitats. They are
among the oldest butterflies on Earth -
Brassolis e.g. first evolved in the late Eocene, about 40
million years ago.
There are 8 species in
the genus Catoblepia, distributed
variously from Belize to Bolivia.
are considerable differences in the underside patterning of these 8
species. Some, including berecynthia
and generosa are quite plain, with
small inconspicuous ocelli that are roughly equal in size. Some
other species such as amphirhoe and
orgetorix ( =
sticheli ) are much more prominently marked, and have only
two ocelli, but these are much larger in size and give the
butterflies a more Caligo-like
On the upperside all
Catoblepia species are dark brown with
a blue sheen. There is a dull orange diagonal subapical band on the
forewings. Some species also have a similarly coloured submarginal
band on the hindwings.
Catoblepia berecynthia is the
commonest and most widespread member of the genus, being found from
Nicaragua to Bolivia.
berecynthia ( Peru
), wing scales, highly magnified
© Adrian Hoskins
This species is found in primary rainforest at altitudes between
The egg is
pale green. It is laid singly on palms ( Arecaceae ). The larva is
pale brown with darker longitudinal stripes. It's tail bears a pair
of caudal prongs and it's head is adorned with a crown of 6 short
are active mainly in the pre-dawn period, and again to a lesser degree
at dusk. On dull days they may also be found feeding at decomposing
fruit on the forest floor, or at sap runs.