the Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - HELICONIINI
Philaethria dido, male, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©
are 7 species in the genus
which some workers consider to be the most primitive of the Heliconiine genera.
Two species -
from Colombia and
from Guyana, were discovered in 1991 and 2002 respectively. A third
is found in the Brazilian state of Para, near the mouth of the Amazon.
South-east Brazil holds another species
are found in Honduras and Colombia respectively.
is among the most beautiful and graceful of neotropical butterflies. It is
regarded as being fairly common throughout most of its range but is
rarely seen as it spends most of its life high in the forest canopy.
lepidopterists often confuse Philaethria dido with the Malachite Siproeta stelenes
a very common Nymphalid found in open secondary forest and around the edges of
forest clearings. The wing shape of the two genera are completely
is found from Mexico to the southern Amazon.
Philaethria dido, males, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©
This species breeds in wet tropical rainforests at altitudes from 0-1200m, but appears to be absent at higher altitudes and from deciduous
The eggs are laid singly on the underside of the leaves of low growing
larva is pale green with reddish spines along the back and sides. The
pupa resembles a bird dropping. It is pale brown, mottled with grey and
covered with tiny warts.
Philaethria dido, Satipo, Peru ©
As with most butterfly species,
the behaviour of males and females differs greatly. The females
are seen more frequently, flitting and gliding at a height of
about 4 metres, and occasionally descending to examine low growing Passiflora plants at light
gaps in the forest.
Males are more
elusive but occasionally descend from the canopy to imbibe
mineral-rich moisture from river beaches or from places where
streams ford forest roads. At these times
they are quite approachable, but flutter constantly as they move
about probing the ground for nutrients. They are only active in
hot sunny conditions and quickly return to the canopy if cloud
obscures the sun. The flight is rapid but very agile.
Both sexes nectar at
Cissus and other flowers in the
dido, male, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©