Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Tribe - EUDAMINI
Polythrix gyges, Satipo, Peru
© Dave Griffiths
Pyrginae, popularly known as Flats or Spreadwings, are a
cosmopolitan subfamily distributed across temperate and tropical
habitats throughout the world. In the Americas there are 990
tribe Eudamini includes 44 genera in the Americas, amongst which are
the Long-tailed Skippers Urbanus,
Aguna; and other familiar genera including
There are several different genera of 'tailed' skippers occurring in
the neotropical region including Urbanus,
They can be distinguished from each other by the
wing venation and by the configuration of the hyaline spots on the
forewings. Additionally, in Urbanus the
outer margin of the forewing is convex, but in the others it is
concave to a greater or lesser degree.
There are 14 known
Polythrix species. The butterflies are characterised by
having a series of small hyaline ( transparent ) windows in the
forewing, which follow the same general layout as in
gyges. The wing fringes of
Polythrix species are white, whereas in
the other tailed genera they are either chequered or pale brown. The
tails of Polythrix tend to be stubbier
than in the other genera.
The distribution of this genus is centred on
Amazonia but some species including
octomaculata have a very wide distribution covering much of
the neotropical region from Mexico to northern Argentina.
Polythrix gyges is endemic to Peru.
The butterfly occurs in rainforest and cloudforest at elevations
between about 300-1400m.
males spend much of their time hiding under leaves, with wings spread,
but will sometimes join aggregations of other Pyrgine skippers at damp
sand or earth, at which time they always rest with wings outspread.
They also feed at bird droppings and can be attracted with pieces of
moistened white tissue placed on the surface of leaves within the