Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Tribe - EUDAMINI
Phocides pigmalion hewitsonius, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©
subfamily Pyrginae are characterised by their habit of basking with
wings outspread, compared to the half-open position favoured by the
tribe Eudamini includes 44 genera in the Americas, amongst which are
the Long-tailed Skippers Urbanus,
Aguna; and other familiar genera including
Autochton, Astraptes and
Phocides bear a remarkable resemblance
to their distant cousins Jemadia,
Elbella, all of which are placed in a different subfamily,
the Pyrrhopyginae. This suggests that they may all be involved in a
mimicry complex as it is difficult to understand why two very
similar patterns could otherwise have evolved. Most Pyrrhopyginae
exhibit aposematic colouration, implying that they are generally
unpalateable or toxic to birds. It seems likely that
Phocides are Batesian mimics and that
Tarsoctenus and Elbella are
The easiest way to distinguish Phocides
from the other genera is to examine the metallic turquoise-white
stripes in the basal area of the forewings. These radiate from the
base in Phocides but are vertical in
the Pyrrhopygine genera.
There are 18
Phocides species, distributed variously
from Texas and Florida to Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.
Phocides pigmalion is an extremely variable species which is
distributed from Florida to Brazil and Peru, and also occurs in the
Caribbean on Cuba, Hispaniola and the Bahamas. The northern races
batabano and batabanoides are
known locally as Mangrove Skippers. They are very dark, without
hyaline areas. The markings are limited to just a series of vague
turquoise stripes on the hindwings. The southern races
pigmalion and hewitsonius are
strikingly marked, and similar in pattern to
metrodorus except that the hyaline area in the fw discal cell
is strongly notched.
subspecies Phocides pigmalion hewitsonius
is found in lowland areas of eastern Peru, and in s.w.
This species is found in tropical and subtropical forest at
altitudes between 0-600m.
The eggs are
reportedly laid singly on the upperside of leaves of the foodplants.
Phocides species are known to feed on
Eugenia ( Myrtaceae ). They are nocturnal feeders, and rest
by day in nests constructed from silk and folded leaves.
are normally found as solitary males imbibing mineralised water from
wet ground at the edge of small streams. They are usually very easy to