Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - ITHOMIINI
Oleria enania, Tingo Maria, Peru ©
The Ithomiini comprises of 376 known species,
although it is likely that at least another 30 will be discovered in
the near future. All are confined to the neotropical region.
are unpalatable to birds, and are consequently mimicked in
appearance by many other species. These include other unpalatable
species ( Müllerian mimics ), not only from the Ithomiinae but also
from several other butterfly families. There are also a large number
of edible species ( Batesian mimics ) which have evolved similar
patterns. Birds have the ability to memorise butterfly patterns and
so learn to avoid eating noxious species, but are also fooled into
ignoring similarly marked edible species.
characterised by having small eyes, slender abdomens and long
drooping antennae that lack distinct clubs. Males have a plume of
long androconial scales or "hair pencils" on the costa of their
hindwings. These are hidden from view when the butterflies are at
rest, but are displayed when the wings are held open during
courtship. Other Ithomiine characteristics include a very slow and
deep wing beat, and a preference for inhabiting the darkest recesses
of the forest understorey.
are basically 2 types of Ithomiine. The first type are the black and
orange-banded "tigers", many of which are mimicked by other species
due to their unpalatability to birds. The second type are the
"glasswings", recognised by their transparent or translucent wings,
prominent veins, and orange wing margins. Many genera contain
examples of both of these types, and in some cases an individual
species may produce adults of both forms according to location.
novices find the Ithomiini very difficult to identify. Using only
the patterns to identify species is very unreliable because there
are so many similar species. Also many species produce a variety of
different colour forms according to locality and season. The best
approach therefore is to use the hindwing venation and other
anatomical features to identify the genus, and to then look at the
wing patterns to short-list the likely species.
Oleria comprises of about 50 known
species, characterised by the distinctive venation of the hindwings.
Oleria enania is
found in eastern Peru and the southern Amazonian regions of Brazil.
is associated primarily with wet tropical rainforest habitats, and
is most commonly found in shady damp areas, at altitudes between
have no data specific to enania but the
following generalisations can be regarded as applicable to the genus
eggs are white. They are laid singly although several may be dotted
about on one plant by any particular female.
The larvae are dull greyish-green, with a wrinkled
texture, and have small shiny black heads. They feed on
Lycianthes ( Solanaceae ).
pupae are usually pale green, unmarked, and have compressed abdominal
segments and a dorsal hump.
adults are normally found in small "leks" of up to a dozen
The males fly very slowly
and almost incessantly around the lek area, only pausing to settle for
a moment here and there, at which time they slowly fan their wings,
probably to aid dissemination of pheromones from the androconial
"hairs" on their wings.
of most Oleria species visit
Eupatorium, from which they acquire
pyrrolizidine alkaloids which they pass to the females during
copulation, and which is believed to be essential for the production
of viable eggs.
visit various flowers for nectar and pollen - the latter may be
essential in the production of eggs and the maintenance of ovaries, as
has been demonstrated by Dunlap-Pianka to be the case with
Heliconiines. Females also receive proteins during sperm transfer.