Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Rio Pindayo, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
subfamily Coliadinae is worldwide in distribution, and includes 70
species in the neotropical region. Among them are the familiar
Phoebis Sulphurs and
Eurema Grass Yellows of the lowlands,
and the Colias Clouded Yellows of the
high altitude paramo and puna grasslands.
Most Coliadinae species are migratory in nature, and highly
conspicuous - Phoebis and
Eurema for example are often seen
flying along riverbanks in "strings" of a dozen or more while
migrating, and males of both genera commonly swarm in groups of 50
or more when mud-puddling at damp sand.
It may come as a surprise therefore to find that the tiny and
elusive Snowflake, a denizen of the dark rainforests, is also a
member of the same subfamily.
There are in fact
two "snowflake" species -
elvina, which has dark wing borders and
looks like a miniature Eurema albula;
and the illustrated species brephos,
which is by far the commoner and most widespread of the two species.
Leucidia brephos is
distributed from Panama to Bolivia.
species breeds in lowland rainforest at altitudes between sea level
and about 800m.
To be completed.
Snowflakes are invariably encountered
singly, usually when seen in flight at light gaps in the forest, where
trees have fallen and sunlight penetrates to ground level. These tiny
butterflies have a very slow and very persistent fluttering flight,
flying for long periods but apparently going nowhere ! It is in fact
possible to watch one of these delightful butterflies drifting and
wafting about, but without travelling more than a few metres, for
several minutes before it eventually settles. When the butterfly does
settle however it tends to stay put for long periods - these aspects
of it's behaviour being very reminiscent of the
Leptidea Wood Whites of European forests, although the latter
are of course entirely unrelated, being members of the Dismorphiinae.