Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Mermeria Wood Nymph
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
subtribe - EUPTYCHIINA
Taygetis mermeria, dry season form, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©
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
Magneuptychia, Harjesia etc;
together with Oressinoma and the
various 'wood nymph' genera i.e. Parataygetis,
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.
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.
All Taygetis species are seasonally
dimorphic i.e. they produce distinct wet and dry season morphs. In
mermeria the difference between the two forms is quite
pronounced. The wet season morph is richly coloured in chocolate and
olive, while the dry season form is a more unicolorous pale reddish
brown, and is perfectly camouflaged at rest among the dead leaves of
the dry season.
Taygetis mermeria is found throughout
the neotropical region from Mexico to Bolivia.
Taygetis mermeria, wet season form, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ©
This species breeds in rainforest and cloudforest habitats which
experience marked seasonality. It occurs at altitudes between
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.
Like all other Taygetis species, this
butterfly is a denizen of the dark undergrowth, and flies mainly in
the early mornings, between about 0800-0900hrs. 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. Taygetis
mermeria is often found in an exceedingly
worn condition and is known to live for several weeks, and possibly
for as long as 9 months.