Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Evans' Tufted Skipper
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Tribe - PYRGINI
Madre de Dios, Peru ©
Pyrginae, popularly known as Flats or Spreadwings, are a
cosmopolitan subfamily distributed across temperate and tropical
habitats throughout the world. In the Americas there are 990
species, of which about
580 are assigned to the tribe Pyrgini.
The suffused but
distinct markings, and the 3 whitish spots near the apex clearly
identify the above illustrated butterfly as a member of the genus
Nisoniades. It should be noted that
there is another neotropical genus with an almost identical name -
Niconiades ( Hesperiinae ).
33 Nisoniades species, most of which
are very similar in appearance, so determining the exact species
from a photograph is almost impossible. To quote one of my contacts
of the specimens in collections are just worn brown things". This is
one of the many skippers that can only be identified accurately by
dissecting the genitalia, dissolving away the soft tissue, and
examining the remaining chitinous organs under a powerful
is found in Ecuador and Peru.
This species was photographed at an estimated altitude of 250m, on a
sandbank at Boca Manu, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru. This area comprises
mainly of severely disturbed riparian forest. The butterfly is
probably restricted to altitudes between about 150-600m, in primary
and disturbed rainforest.
Pyrgine butterflies typically lay their eggs singly on either the
upperside or underside of leaves. The larvae are usually dull green
or brownish, with thin longitudinal lines along the back and sides,
and with black shiny heads. Most feed on low growing herbaceous
plants, but a small percentage feed on the leaves of bushes or
trees. The pupae are usually dark and smooth, with the wing cases in
a contrasting tone or colour. They are normally formed within silken
tents formed by spinning together the leaves of the foodplant.
This species is
usually encountered singly amidst aggregations that include other
sombre Pyrgines, imbibing mineralised moisture from river beaches.