Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
subtribe - EUPTYCHIINA
Rio Pindayo, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
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.
The 15 Cissia
species are smaller than most other members of the Euptychiina. They
are generally a dull plain earthy brown colour on the upperside. On
the underside they are pale brown with broad dark brown bands and a
creamy outer band. The hindwings have 2 large black ocelli within
each of which is a pair of silvery highlights.
Cissia penelope is
one of the commonest and most widespread members of the Euptychiina,
being found throughout most of tropical South America.
The habitats of this butterfly are diverse, and include lowland
secondary rainforest, cloudforest up to about 1200m, and disturbed
semi-open habitats within forested areas.
I have no information specific to penelope.
The lifecycle is likely to be similar to that of other
Cissia species, all of which produce
round eggs with vertical striations. The eggs are laid either on or
near the foodplants, which according to species may be either
grasses ( Poaceae ), palms ( Arecaceae ), or arrowroots (
Marantaceae ). The larvae unlike those of most other Satyrines only
have 4 instars. When fully grown they are brownish in colour with
numerous thin darker and paler lines along the back and sides. The
body tapers noticeably towards the head and tail. The latter has a
pair of short caudal prongs. Like most other Satyrine larvae they
are crepuscular or nocturnal feeders, and hide at the base of plants
during the daytime. The pupa according to species may be pale green,
brown or blackish, mottled or peppered with darker markings. It
hangs by the cremaster from a stem or leaf of the foodplant.
with other Cissia species, the
butterflies are solitary in behaviour, but invariably several will be
found within the same vicinity. They fly in cloudy or sunny
conditions, and can be found deep within the forest, or in open areas
such as forest edges or along sunlit forest tracks.