Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Tribe - LEPTOCIRCINI
Protesilaus earis, Madre de Dios, Peru ©
Butterflies in the genus
Protesilaus are characterised by having translucent white
wings, tinged on the underside with green or yellow, and marked with
narrow black stripes. The forewings are decidedly triangular in
shape, and the hindwings adorned with a single long sword-like tail.
The bodies are relatively short, and the antennal tips strongly
can easily be confused with other Swordtail species. One feature
which helps to differentiate between the various
Protesilaus species is the length of
the dark bars on the forewing. In this species the 4th bar ( in
ascending order from the wing base ) is reduced to a very small spot
at the costa, whereas in most other species it extends to at least
one-third way down the discal cell. Other distinguishing
characteristics include the shape of the red tornal spot, and the
configuration of the very thin submarginal crescents on the
P. earis occurs in
Ecuador and Peru.
occurs in lowland rainforest at elevations from about 100-800m.
Swordtails such as Protesilaus and
Protographium are migratory in behaviour,
following river courses as they travel.
can often be seen gathered on sandbanks, filter-feeding on dissolved
minerals by continually pumping water though their bodies. This
species invariably aggregates with other Swordtail species, often
joined by various Pierids.