Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
FELDER & FELDER,
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - BIBLIDINAE
Tribe - EPICALIINI
are 4 known members of the genus
obrinus, all of which are confined to the neotropical region.
All of the species have similar undersides. The
uppersides of Nessaea males are very
dark brown, with bright sky blue diagonal bands on the forewings.
The male of hewitsonii also has blue
markings on the hindwings, but the remaining species including
batesii have orange patches on the
hindwings instead. The females of all species have plain brown
hindwings, blue diagonal bands across the forewings, and elongated
reddish spots within the discal cell of the forewings.
Nessaea hewitsoni is
found throughout eastern Andes from Colombia and Venezuela to
Bolivia, and across the western Amazonas of Brazil.
Catarata Bayoz, La Merced, Peru ©
are usually seen singly, and breed in wet primary rainforest at
altitudes between 0-800m. They are not usually encountered in
secondary forest, and it is very unusual for them to be seen in open
sunny areas, although I have observed males of
Nessaea aglaura in forest edge habitats and degraded forest
The yellowish-green barrel-shaped eggs are laid singly on leaves of
Plukenetia and other trees in the
larva when fully grown is jade green. Each body segment adorned with
enormous whorled spikes which are amber in colour. The head is
bluish and armed with a pair of long head horns. The larva adopts
the usual Biblidini resting posture with it's body arched and it's
face appressed to the substrate so that the spines are directed
upward. If it is molested the larva twitches violently, swinging
it's head from side to side. The pupa is dark green, and is attached
by the cremaster from the upperside of a leaf, projecting
Madre de Dios, Peru ©
butterflies are usually found as singletons, but it is not unusual to
see several males and one or two females during an hour long walk
along a narrow forest track in suitable habitat.
Nessaea species are fast flyers. When at
rest they are very alert to movement. If alarmed they fly off very
rapidly and with great agility. They usually resettle a short distance
away but invariably return to the original spot within a few minutes.
Normally they settle on foliage about 1-3m above the ground, and close
their wings immediately upon landing. They then wait motionless for a
few minutes, and if undisturbed they will slowly open their wings to
feed at fallen fruit, and can be baited with plantain. They are also
attracted to mammal dung and urine on forest tracks, but unlike many
other members of the Biblidini they are not attracted to sunny river
beaches or other open areas.
Bayoz, La Merced, Peru ©