Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
White-barred Lady Slipper
Pierella hortona  HEWITSON, 1854
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Pierella hortona albofasciata, Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
The tribe Haeterini is confined exclusively to the neotropical region. All members of this tribe are elusive crepuscular butterflies which spend their lives skulking deep in the undergrowth. There are 5 genera - Pierella, Pseudohaetera, Haetera, Dulcedo and Cithaerias.
The genus Pierella includes 11 species, all confined to the neotropical region. The butterflies can be instantly recognised by their characteristic wing shape, cryptic underside pattern, and their skulking flight just above the surface of the ground, in the darkness beneath the forest understorey.
All members of the genus have brown uppersides, marked on the forewings with thin, feint brown lines, and on the hindwings with dark post-median ocelli or spots. Many of the species have a blue suffusion over the hindwings, while others are marked variously with white, reddish or orange.
Pierella hortona has a dark brown upperside marked with a central patch of blue on each wing. The subspecies albofasciata is considered to be a separate species by some authors. It differs from the typical form in having a circular white spot within the blue patch on the upperside hindwing, and a broad white streak on both surfaces of the forewings.
This species occurs east of the Andes in Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. Subspecies albofasciata is restricted to Peru and Bolivia.
Pierella hortona occurs in rainforest and cloudforest habitats at elevations between about 100-1600m.
The egg is pale and globular. It is laid singly on young leaves of the foodplant, usually on seedlings. When fully grown the larva is a dull brownish colour, with vague darker markings and many thin longitudinal lines along the back and sides. The head has two short horns, and the tail has a pair of caudal prongs. It feeds nocturnally on Heliconia, possibly also on Calathea ( Marantaceae ). During the day it rests in a head-downwards posture on the lower stem of the foodplant. The pupa is pale brown with dark marbling and mottling on the wing cases and abdomen. It is suspended by the cremaster from woody stems.
Adult behaviour

The butterflies are usually encountered in two's or three's along dark narrow forest trails or among bamboo thickets. They fly mainly in the gloom of pre-dawn, but can also be disturbed when walking along trails until mid-morning. Like all Pierella species the flight is low and skulking, but surprisingly rapid, and has been compared with the movements of a ballroom dancer's feet, hence the common name "Ladies Slipper" or "Lady Slipper".

Pierella butterflies avoid sunshine, and by late morning have secreted themselves away deep in the undergrowth. They often choose to hide amongst the tangle of rootlets which are found at the base of certain palms. As with other Pierella species they tend to flick their wings open momentarily just after settling but then immediately close them. On rare occasions, just after dawn they will bask with the wings outspread for a few seconds, but this is rarely observed.

Both sexes feed at decomposing fungi and mouldy fruit on the forest floor.



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