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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Blue Doctor
Rhetus periander  CRAMER, 1777
Family - RIODINIDAE
subfamily - RIODININAE
Tribe - RIODININI
Rhetus periander, Rio Claro, Colombia  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
Butterflies in the genus Rhetus are noted for their short palpi, and for having a beautiful blue sheen across the upper surface of the wings. Rhetus are closely allied to Ancyluris and have a very similar wing shape. In Ancyluris however there is a blue iridescence on the underside of the wings, but not on the upperside.
There are 3 Rhetus species, of which periander is the commonest and most widespread. The others are arcius, which is paler, with longer, thinner tails; and dysonii, in which the pink markings on the hindwings are of a different configuration.
Rhetus periander, Satipo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
Rhetus periander is usually found singly or in very low numbers, in the vicinity of streams or rivers. It can be also be found along tracks through primary or disturbed rainforest or cloudforest habitats. The butterfly occurs at elevations between 0-1800m, and flies throughout the year.

Rhetus periander, Satipo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Lifecycle
The larval foodplants are unknown. The eggs of other Rhetus species are white, and laid singly on stems or leaf axils.
Rhetus periander, Satipo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Adult behaviour

Males can be seen perching under leaves at a height of between about 3-8m above ground in the early morning. Later in the morning, presumably after mating has taken place, they often descend to ground level to imbibe at wet mud. After first settling they are skittish and take flight instantly if disturbed, but after a while they overcomes their nervousness and will sometimes remain in one spot for several minutes. Males are attracted mainly by mineral salts, but will also visit carrion - I once observed one feeding on the juices of a dead tarantula in Venezuela!

Both sexes are attracted to Eupatorium flowers, and also nectar at Inga, Croton and Cordia.

Rhetus periander, male, Satipo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
 

 

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