Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Cleopatra Wood Nymph
Taygetis cleopatra  FELDER & FELDER, 1867
subfamily - SATYRINAE
subtribe - EUPTYCHIINA
Taygetis cleopatra, Satipo, Peru Dave Griffiths
There are 1100 known species of Satyrinae in the neotropical region. About 400 of these are placed in the Euptychiina. Butterflies within this tribe include the 'ringlet' genera Euptychia, Magneuptychia, Harjesia, Cissia, Caeruleuptychia, Magneuptychia, Harjesia etc; together with Oressinoma and the various 'wood nymph' genera i.e. Parataygetis, Posttaygetis and Taygetis. Most are inhabitants of the forest understorey and tend to fly close to the ground. They generally avoid sunlight and prefer to fly at dawn or on cloudy days when light levels and temperatures are low.
The genus Taygetis contains 28 known species, although several more are likely to be discovered. They vary in wingspan between about 5-11cms, and are characterised by having dull brown wings, usually cryptically patterned on the underside so that they resemble dead leaves. Most species also have a series of prominent ocelli on the ventral surface. Taygetis sylvia is less leaf-like than many of the other species, but the white band across the wings and jagged outline both very effectively break up the shape of the butterfly, which is very well camouflaged when at rest amongst dead leaves on the forest floor.
All Taygetis species produce dry season and wet season forms which differ slightly in appearance. The dry season forms tend to be paler, with a slightly more exaggerated wing shape. There is also a great deal of geographical variation in the colour and contrast of the wing markings, although the ocelli, submarginal wavy line, and the black spots in the discal cells are consistent in all races.
Taygetis cleopatra is found throughout the Amazonian faunal region from Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana to Peru and southern Brazil.
This species breeds in lowland wet tropical rainforests at altitudes between about 100-800m.
The eggs of Taygetis species are smooth, globular and laid singly on or close to the foodplants. The caterpillars are typically Satyrine in appearance, with smooth pale green bodies marked with thin longitudinal lines, a pair of short tail prongs and a matching pair of horns projecting forward from the head capsule. They feed solitarily after dusk, on grasses or bamboos according to species. The pupae are typically pale green, and have a bifid head and a curved abdomen.
Adult behaviour

Like all other Taygetis species, this butterfly is a denizen of the dark undergrowth, and flies mainly in the early mornings, between about 0700-0900hrs. At other times it usually hides away amongst the rootlets of palms or amongst leaf litter around the base of trees. The adults fly only very short distances, rarely more than 2-3 metres at a time, and always close to the ground. Both sexes visit rotting fruits, decomposing fungi and bird-droppings on the forest floor.



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