Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Itaballia pandosia pisonis Ecuador
© Tony Hoare
little butterfly belongs to a genus containing only 3 species -
and demophile, all confined to the
is the smallest member of the genus, with a wingspan of about 50mm,
and can be confused with the Dismorphiine
Moschoneura pinthous, which flies in similar habitats and has
a similar flight pattern. The latter species however is slightly
smaller at 45mm, and has a series of white submarginal spots on the
The insect illustrated is the subspecies
pisonis, which occurs throughout the
Amazonian regions of Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. Other subspecies
occur in Costa Rica, Colombia and Venezuela.
The butterfly is found in wet primary rainforest habitats at
elevations between about 200-800m.
The following applies in
general to Itaballia, although I have
no data specific to pandosia :
eggs are yellow, and laid singly under the leaves of
Capparis ( Capparidaceae ).
The larvae are typically green with yellow and blue tubercles.
The chrysalis is whitish and adorned with black
spikes on the back. It is formed on a mat of silk spun on the upper
surface of Capparis leaves.
appear to be territorial, as they are usually seen singly, although
other males are invariably present in the vicinity, dotted along the
length of a forest trail at intervals of about 50 metres. They tend to
spend several minutes at a time perched on low foliage growing along
narrow but fairly well lit trails, typically within a few metres of
riverbanks. They generally prefer the shade of the forest understorey
but occasionally visit sunlit river beaches to imbibe mineralised
butterflies are nervous, and if disturbed they fly quickly to resettle
on another nearby leaf, usually higher up, but always within 3 metres
of ground level. Continued disturbance simply causes them to repeat
the process endlessly, and often results in them eventually returning
to their original perching place. This habit is very reminiscent of
the behaviour of certain Ithomiines.