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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Lavinia Emperor
Doxocopa lavinia  BUTLER, 1866
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - APATURINAE
Doxocopa lavinia, male, Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso, Brazil Miguel Antonio-Silva-Stefanelli
Introduction
There are 15 Doxocopa species. They can be loosely divided into 2 groups. The lavinia group are all sexually dimorphic. Their males all closely resemble the current species, while their females are all Adelpha-like. The felderi group are also sexually dimorphic. Their males are predominantly purple above. Females of this group strongly resemble Perisama on the upperside, with turquoise diagonal bands on the forewing, and similarly coloured submarginal bands on the hindwing.
Males of lavinia are marked on the upperside with a band of white scales. Each scale has a ridged surface that refracts and reflects light in iridescent hues of blue, green and violet. The intensity of these colours when the butterfly is seen in full sunlight almost defies description. Females lack any iridescence - they resemble Adelpha species, but have more angular forewings. In both sexes the orange markings are greatly reduced in some geographical races.
Doxocopa lavinia is distributed from Colombia to Peru and Brazil.
Doxocopa lavinia, male, Satipo, Peru Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
The butterfly breeds in rainforest habitats at altitudes from sea level to about 1600m.
Lifecycle
The caterpillar feeds on Celtis species ( Ulmaceae ). When fully grown it is green, strongly tapered towards the anal segment, and has a pair of forward-projecting horns on its head. The chrysalis is probably similar to that of other Apaturines, which are typically flattened laterally, arched dorsally, and superbly camouflaged as living or dead foliage.
Adult behaviour

Males are strongly territorial, perching on high foliage, and periodically swooping down with great speed and agility to investigate rotting fruit, dung or carrion on the ground. They are solitary and of nervous disposition, but after a few minutes will usually accept human presence. They are most often seen when visiting wet muddy patches, or the edges of small streams where they ford dirt roads. Sightings of females are very rare, as they spend their time high in the forest canopy.

 

 

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