Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Tribe - ANAEINI
Memphis offa, Satipo, Peru ©
tribe Anaeini comprises of 87 neotropical species in the genera
The butterflies are characterised by having a very rapid and strong
flight. They have stout bodies, falcate wings, and on the upper
surface are generally black, marked with bands of orange, bright
red, or lustrous blue according to species. The undersides of all
species in the Anaeini are cryptically patterned and bear a strong
resemblance to the dead leaves, tree bark or boulders on which they
The genus Memphis
includes 60 species, all restricted to the neotropical region. The
forewings of all species have a falcate apex, and a concave dorsum.
In many species the tornus of the forewing is very acute.
Males of all Memphis
species are black, with extensive metallic blue or turquoise scaling
over the basal half of the wings, usually with additional blue spots
or bands in the subapical area. Females are similar but usually of a
different hue of blue-green, and often have short tails on the
hindwings. The males of some species also have short tails. A small
number of species have additional orange or red markings - e.g. the
male of anna has a red patch in the
subapical area, and the females of anna
and philumena have orange subapical
bands on the forewings.
Memphis offa is an
uncommon species found from Colombia to Bolivia.
This species is found at elevations between about 200-800m in
rainforest habitats along the base of the eastern Andes.
I have no information relating
specifically to offa, but the following
account describes the lifecycle of a typical
Memphis species :
The eggs are
smooth and globular. They are laid singly on leaves of the
foodplants, which according to species include Piperaceae,
Euphorbiaceae, Lauraceae, Monimaceae and Annonaceae.
caterpillars are cylindrical, tapering towards the bifid tail, and
covered with tiny granulations or very short bristles. They are
typically green or brown, marked with a series of fine longitudinal
lines. The head is large, and bears a crown of short pointed
tubercles. When small, the caterpillars make frass-chains ( chains
of dried droppings ) on the tips of leaves. When older they live
within leaf tubes made from rolled up leaves bound together with
silk, and only emerge when feeding.
chrysalis of all species is stocky and barrel-shaped, with a very
large thoracic section, and highly compressed abdominal segments. It
is typically green or brownish, lightly marbled, and is suspended by
the cremaster from a leaf or stem.
Memphis species this butterfly spends most of its life in the
upper canopy. It is however strongly attracted to rotting fruit,
mammalian dung or carrion on the forest floor. It will feed in deep
shade in the early morning, often in company with Brassolini. Later in
the day it can sometimes be found feeding in damp semi-shaded
situations, or even in full sunlight.
The wings are always kept tightly
closed when the butterflies are feeding. If disturbed they fly up onto
nearby understorey foliage. They typically spend several minutes there
and often open their wings fully to bask in the dappled sunlight.
After a while when they feel it is safe enough to return, they descend
in stages, eventually settling on the forest floor to resume feeding.