Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - HESPERIIDAE
Pindayo, Peru ©
There are 2365 described species of Hesperiidae
in the Neotropical region. The family is divided into 5 subfamilies
- Pyrrhopyginae, Pyrginae, Heteropterinae, Megathyminae and
1040 species of Hesperiinae are commonly known as Grass Skippers,
because their larvae feed on grasses, bamboos and other
Saliana are easily
recognised due to the distinctive pale basal area and white or
semi-hyaline spots on the underside hindwings, but distinguishing
between the individual species is difficult and in many cases it is
necessary to dissect and microscopically examine the genitalia.
There are 20 known species, and almost certainly
several more awaiting discovery. The butterflies are popularly known
as Proboscis Skippers due to the length of the tongues, which is
approximately equal to the wingspan of the butterfly.
salius is one of the most common
and widespread members of the genus. It is distributed from Mexico
to Brazil and Uruguay.
This species was photographed in riparian forest at about 400m
altitude, on the Rio Madre de Dios in southern Peru.
These butterflies are usually
encountered singly in light gaps or along narrow trails through
primary rainforest. They use their extraordinarily long proboscises to
nectar at deep-throated flowers. They also feed at bird droppings, at
which time they sit in front of the dropping, curling their proboscis
under their body to reach the pabulum behind them.
The commonest method deployed by
entomologists to attract Saliana species
is to place a small piece of wet white tissue paper on top of a leaf -
the butterflies are attracted to this, fooled into believing it is a