Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Stichel's Tailed Owlet
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - MORPHINAE
Tribe - BRASSOLINI
subtribe - BRASSOLINA
Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©
The Morphinae comprises
of about 140-150 neotropical species, of which 93 are included
within the tribe Brassolini. Of these 73 are placed in the
Brassolina - a subtribe
including the genera Brassolis,
Opsiphanes, Orobrassolis and Selenophanes.
All Brassolines are crepuscular or nocturnal in behaviour, although
a few species also fly by day in the darkest areas of the forest.
Opoptera comprises of 6 known species -
sulcius, syme and a newly
discovered Peruvian species that has not yet been named.
Opoptera aorsa is distributed from Colombia to southern Peru.
This species is found in primary and secondary rainforest, and in
cloudforest at altitudes up to at least 1800 metres. It is often
associated with stands of bamboo or banana.
The eggs are
white and globular, finely ribbed, and laid in clusters of between
2-5 on leaves of the foodplant Chusquea
( bamboo ). The larva is pale green, with a series of thin brown and
yellowish lines along the back, and a pair of brown caudal tails.
The head is pale brown and has a pair of long black horns, and a
short pale horn on each cheek. The chrysalis is long and
cylindrical, tan coloured with numerous fine dark striations, and
has the general appearance of a piece of bamboo stem.
Opoptera rest on decaying stems or thin
branches at a height of about 1m but they are normally only seen at
dawn when they visit rotting fruit or herbivore dung on the forest
In Brazil by
torchlight I have seen groups of up to 6 adults flying in close
contact with each other in the corner of a small glade after dark, at
about 1900hrs. This probably indicates that courtship and copulation
occur in the early part of the evening. In the Peruvian Andes I found
an adult imbibing moisture from mud in the middle of a road at midday,
in cloudy weather, at an altitude of 1800m.