Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
Tribe - EUMAEINI
Panthiades bathildis, Medellin,
Almost all neotropical Theclinae species are placed in the Eumaeini.
The tribe is not particularly well represented in collections, so
until fairly recently a high percentage remained unstudied, and were
inappropriately filed away in the 'convenience' genus
Thecla. Many taxonomists have attempted
to rationalise the systematics of the Eumaeini, the most recent
being Robbins who published a revision in 2004, reclassifying the
taxa into 83 genera. Currently there are 1058 known species. Taking
into account their small size, secretive behaviour, and the great
similarities between many species, it is estimated that about
another 200 species probably remain to be discovered.
There are 8 Panthiades species
distributed variously from Mexico to Brazil. The uppersides of males
are an intensely reflective deep blue colour, with narrow black
margins and a prominent patch of dark androconial scales in the cell
of the forewing. Females are a paler and less metallic shade of
blue, with broad suffused dark margins. On the underside, two
species - bathildis and
phaleros have black and white zebra
patterns. Most of the other species have dark undersides marked with
large white suffused patches and black venation, the exceptions
being bitias and
hebraeus which have plain undersides with a single narrow
The striking zebra pattern of bathildis
serves to divert the eyes of predators away from the head and body
of the butterfly, and towards the 'false antennae' tails. It creates
a 'back to front' illusion that deceives lizards and birds, tricking
them into aiming their attack the wrong part of the butterfly. The
predators typically try to increase their chances of a direct hit by
aiming their attack just ahead of where they expect the butterfly to
fly, but are fooled into aiming behind, instead of in front of the
target. The result is that the butterfly is able to make its escape
in the opposite direction.
Panthiades bathildis is distributed
from Mexico to northern Brazil.
This species is found in forest edge habitats at elevations between
To be completed.
Males are invariably encountered singly, perching or resting on
foliage, boulders or fallen tree trunks. The flight is rapid, erratic
and difficult to follow with the eye, but the butterflies invariable
return to settle on their original perching place, or on another
nearby leaf or boulder.