Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - MELITAEINI
subtribe - PHYCIODINA
Rio Alto Madre de
© Adrian Hoskins
tribe Melitaeini is of worldwide distribution. It includes the
Crescents and Checkerspots of North America, and also many familiar
European species such as the Marsh, Spotted and Heath Fritillaries.
related to Castalia,
Janatella, in fact that these genera can only be
distinguished by microscopic examination of the male genitalia.
20 Eresia species fall into 2 groups.
Some such as nauplius are black with
bands or patches of white. Most however are strongly marked in black
and orange, and are regarded as being Batesian mimics of toxic
Ithomiinae e.g. Eresia ithomioides
bears an amazing resemblance to Hyaliris coena;
while Eresia mechanitis is strikingly
similar to the sympatric Mechanitis lysimnia.
Eresia nauplius is distributed throughout much of the
Amazonian region. The subspecies plagiata
occurs in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
Tingo Maria, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
This is a sun-loving species found at altitudes
between about 100-1000m, where it occupies forest edge habitats
where there is a profusion of low vegetation. Examples include river
banks, forest clearings, glades and roadsides.
I have no information specific to nauplius
but the lifecycle is probably similar to that of
in which the eggs are cream coloured, and laid in untidy batches of
up to 70 beneath leaves of Pilea
( Urticaceae ). At least one other Eresia
species - coena, oviposits on
Justicia ( Acanthaceae ). The larva of
ithomioides is dark green with orange
spikes and white dots along the back. The head and legs are orange.
Its pupa is olive-brown, shiny, and suspended by the cremaster from
Both sexes nectar at flowers, but the butterfly is more often seen
when males settle in hot sunshine to imbibe moisture from sandbanks,
river beds, drying pools or peccary wallows. At such times they tend
to settle with their wings held erect, but when conditions are
cooler or overcast they usually bask with the wings outspread, and
with the hindwings half-covered by the forewings.