Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - RIODINIDAE
subfamily - RIODININAE
Tribe - RIODININI
subtribe - NYMPHIDIINA
Nymphidium plinthobaphis, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©
The triangular white patch on the forewings, broad white bands
across the hindwings, and orange markings of this butterfly are
found in 3 genera of Riodinidae - Synargis,
Nymphidium. The latter are more delicate in appearance than
the others, and have narrower forewings. Other features which help
distinguish Nymphidium include the
ovoid bluish-white submarginal markings, and the orange bars in the
discal cell of the forewings.
There are 33 species of
Nymphidium distributed variously from
Belize to Bolivia, with the greatest number of species being found
in the upper Amazon of Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. Most are generally
similar in appearance, varying mainly in the extent of the orange
markings. In some species the orange is vestigial or absent, and in
mantus the orange is replaced by a
beautiful sapphire blue.
Nymphidium plinthobaphis is a common and widespread species
found in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.
This species is found in primary and disturbed rainforest and
deciduous forest at altitudes between about 100-600m, and is found
in glades and forest edges, along roadsides and riverbanks, and at
large light gaps.
The eggs of
all Nymphidium species are white and
are laid either singly or in small clusters on the stems or leaves
of the larval foodplants which include Inga
and possibly other Fabaceae. The larvae are green and devoid of
setae. They live within rolled tubes at the edges of leaves. They
possess a full set of ant organs indicating that they have a
dependent or symbiotic relationship with the
Azteca ants that attend them.
butterflies are usually encountered in flight along sunny trails. They
have a characteristic gentle fluttering flight at a height of about
2-3 metres, but spend long periods at rest beneath leaves, with wings
outspread, and antennae pointing forward. Males occasionally settle on
the ground to imbibe mineralised moisture but this behaviour is not
habitual. Both sexes nectar at
Lantana and Cordia flowers.
The flight is weak and fluttery.