Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - HESPERIIDAE
tribe - PYRRHOPYGINI
Parelbella ahira ahira,
Satipo, Peru ©
subfamily Pyrrhopyginae comprises 163 species, most of which are
confined to the neotropics, although a few occur in Mexico, and a
Pyrrhopyginae are characterised by having a massive muscular thorax
and a conical abdomen with compressed segments. The wings of most
species are black, often with a metallic blue sheen, and are swept
back, half covering the hindwings when the butterflies settle.
Several genera, including
Jemadia, Elbella and
Parelbella have a pattern of hyaline
windows on the forewings, and are marked with stripes and bands of
metallic blue and white. Many of these species are superficially
very similar, but the shape and configuration of the hyaline areas
and blue streaks is different in each species.
There are 5
Parelbella species, variously
distributed from Mexico to Paraguay.
is known from Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil.
This species is found in primary and disturbed rainforest at
altitudes between about 200-800m.
The larvae of all Parelbella species
are plump and dark reddish in colour, with narrow yellow rings
around the abdominal segments. The head and tail are coated with
long red setae. The remainder of the body is covered with shorter
brown setae. The larva lives solitarily within a blister formed by
folding over a segment of leaf. The foodplants include various
Myrcia species. The pupa is reddish and covered in long
setae. It is formed within a cocoon constructed of folded leaves
sealed together with silk.
The butterflies are strongly
associated with riparian habitats, and rarely seen away from rivers or
streams. Males can be found either singly or aggregating with
Phocides species, imbibing moisture from
wet ground. They always settle close to the water's edge. Unlike
Jemadia they tend to feed in open sunlit