Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - MELITAEINI
subtribe - PHYCIODINA
© 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 distinct
groups. Some e.g. nauplius are black
with bands or patches of white. Most however are strongly marked in
black and orange, and regarded as Batesian mimics of toxic
Eresia pelonia e.g. produces several
forms, each of which strongly resembles a particular species of
Ithomiine. Eresia pelonia callonia is
for instance an extremely accurate "copy" of
Hypothyris mansuetus meterus which flies in the same area of
Peru. The form illustrated above is intermediate between
E. p. pelonia and
E. p. apicalis, and is
a mimic of another
sympatric Ithomiine - Callithomia alexirrhoe
Despite the similarities in colour and pattern the various forms of
pelonia can easily be distinguished
from their Ithomiine models by their antennae - these are long and
drooping in Ithomiines, but short and straight in
Eresia. They also behave very
differently - Ithomiines have a slow floppy flight with deep wing
beats, and nearly always settle with wings closed.
Eresia however have an erratic jerky
flight, and usually settle and bask with wings fully outspread.
Eresia pelonia is found in Ecuador, Peru and in Rondonia
Peru © Adrian
This species is found in primary rainforest at
altitudes between about 200-800m, occupying forest edge habitats
including river banks, small clearings, light gaps and glades.
I have no data regarding pelonia but
the lifecycle is probably similar to that of
in which the eggs are cream coloured, pear-shaped, and laid in
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
The butterfly is usually seen in small glades and light gaps, where
it settles with wings outspread, to imbibe mineralised moisture from
damp soil or logs.
Peru © Adrian