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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Scorching Sapphire
Phareas coeleste  WESTWOOD, 1852
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Tribe - EUDAMINI
Phareas coeleste at bird dropping, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The tribe Eudamini includes 44 genera in the neotropical region, amongst which are the Long-tailed Skippers Urbanus, Chioides and Aguna; and such familiar genera as Phocides, Autochton, Astraptes and Calaenorrhinus.
The genus Phareas comprises of a single species coeleste. The butterfly is found throughout the Amazonian region.
Habitats
This species is confined to lowland primary rainforest at altitudes from sea level to about 800m.
Lifecycle
Unknown.
Adult behaviour

The Scorching Sapphire is a very elusive species, which is found in association with ant birds. Flocks of the birds follow ant swarms as they migrate across the forest, feeding on insects disturbed by the marauding ants. The butterflies in turn follow the ant birds, feeding on their droppings, from which they obtain vital alkaloids. Once a butterfly has located a fresh dropping, it will return to it many times over a period of an hour or so.

The butterfly has an incredibly fast and agile flight. It is normally seen as a brilliant flash of blue, scorching a tortuous route in and out amongst the rainforest trees at a pace so fast that it is difficult to comprehend how it can do so without colliding with something.

On each sortie the butterfly covers a distance of about 50 metres, and abruptly lands on the leaf of a tree, typically at a height of about 4 metres. There it will bask for two or three minutes with wings fully outspread, before shooting off on another sortie.

 

 

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