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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Glittering Sapphire
Lasaia agesilas  LATREILLE, 1809
Family - RIODINIDAE
subfamily - RIODININAE
Tribe - RIODININI
Lasaia agesilas, male, Catarata Bayoz, La Merced, Peru Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The genus Lasaia contains 14 species, all of which are found exclusively in the neotropics. They are small butterflies, averaging about 30mm in wingspan. Males have extremely reflective wing scales, shimmering in metallic turquoise, blue or steely grey according to species. Females are rarely seen. They are generally a dull earthy brown colour. Both sexes have a similar pattern of black spots.
No photograph can do justice to the intense dazzling blue of agesilas, which is as mesmerising and brilliant as that of any Morpho butterfly. The black markings vary in size, and in some examples are much reduced so that the insect approaches kennethi in appearance. The undersides however are completely different - agesilas is marbled in grey and white, and marked with black spots similar to those on the upperside. The underside of kennethi however is silver-grey, with black veins and an extensive area of dark brown obscuring the markings on the basal half of the forewings.
Lasaia agesilas occurs from Mexico to Paraguay.
Lasaia agesilas, Rio Claro, Colombia Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
This species is found in rainforest and cloudforest habitats at altitudes between about 200-1500m.

Lasaia agesilas, male, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru Adrian Hoskins
Lifecycle
The eggs are flattened, and resemble a pair of stacked pies. I have no other information regarding the lifecycle. The foodplant of the related Lasaia sula is Albizia ( Fabaceae ) so it is likely that other Lasaia species feed on related plants.
Lasaia agesilas, Rio Claro, Colombia Adrian Hoskins
Adult behaviour

Females are rarely seen, but males are commonly encountered in one's and two's when imbibing mineral-rich moisture from sandbanks, peccary wallows or sunlit forest tracks. They are only active in hot sunny weather. The flight of all Lasaia species is erratic, very rapid and close to the ground, with a tendency to flit constantly from spot to spot.

The butterflies are strongly attracted to human sweat. I have found that when trying to photograph them they repeatedly insist on landing on my forehead. Brushing them off has absolutely no effect - they just fly straight back. On one occasion I amused my colleagues by having 3 of these glittering butterflies simultaneously imbibing sweat from my forehead.

Lasaia agesilas, male, Catarata Bayoz, La Merced, Peru Adrian Hoskins

 

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