Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - HESPERIIDAE
tribe - PYRRHOPYGINI
Pyrrhopyge aziza troja, Bosque
She'llot, Peru ©
subfamily Pyrrhopyginae comprises 163 known species, most of which
are found only in the tropical rainforests and cloudforests of South
America, although a few reach as far north as Mexico, and a single
reaches Arizona. They
are characterised by having bodies which are very large in
proportion to the wings. Other characteristics include a massive
muscular thorax, compressed abdominal segments, prominent eyes, and
antennae with recurved clubs.
Several genera, including
Jemadia and Elbella have a
pattern of hyaline 'windows' on the forewings, and are marked with
stripes and bands of brilliant blue and white. Other genera such as
and Pyrrhopyge lack the hyaline
windows, and are characterised instead by having bright pink or red
markings on the head and / or on the tip of the abdomen.
The 38 species in the genus
Pyrrhopyge are all similar in appearance, typically having a
black or dark brown ground colour, and white or orange fringes. In
most species the head and tail are both bright red or orange, and in
some species such as telassina there
are orange shoulder-stripes on the thorax. The wings are either
black or dark brown, and in sunlight both wing surfaces reflect a
metallic sheen which varies in hue from green to blue or purple
according to angle of view.
In several species such as
phidias and proculus the basal
area of the underside hindwings is white. Only
sergius and aziza have white
lines radiating around the margins of the underside hindwings. In
both species the white can be limited to the extreme margins, or may
extend almost to the base of the wings. Both species also produce
alternative morphs in which the white occurs only as a basal patch
and does not reach the margins, or in which the white markings are
entirely absent. In every subspecies of
sergius the upperside is entirely black, except for the thin
white margins, but in some races of aziza,
including the Peruvian troja, the broad
white radiating lines on the hindwings appear on both wing surfaces.
occurs in the eastern Andes from Colombia and Venezuela to Bolivia,
and also in mountainous regions of Guyana and Argentina. There are 7
This species occurs in lowland and mid-elevation forests, at
altitudes between about 200-1000m.
usually seen when discovered on the ground imbibing mineralised water
from wet rocks, or at the edges of streams.
When settling to feed they usually
hold their wings half open.