Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
tribe - PIERINI
Archonias brassolis negrina, Satipo, Peru ©
In the neotropical region there are a total of 192 representatives
of the subfamily Pierinae.
The genus Archonias comprises of a
single species brassolis, which is
divided into 11 subspecies.
Archonias very strongly resemble
certain members of the Heliconiinae and it seems likely that both
groups of taxa are involved in a mimicry complex that may also
include unpalatable moths in the family Arctiidae. In the case of
Archonias brassolis the underside is
extremely similar to that of the Heliconiine
Laparus doris, and the colour and pattern of the upperside
wings is strongly reminiscent of a generalised Heliconiine.
It is probable that Heliconius,
Archonias are all noxious to birds. If a bird tastes one of
them it will associate the butterfly's colour and pattern with the
unpleasant experience. As a result it will sight-reject other
similarly coloured butterflies regardless of whether they are toxic
or palatable. Palatable butterflies that mimic noxious ones are
called Batesian mimics. In cases such as
Archonias and Heliconius where
several ( often unrelated ) noxious species share a similar warning
pattern they are known as Mullerian mimics.
While birds are
easily fooled by the similarities between
the aforementioned insects, they can easily be distinguished from
each other by human observers. Archonias
like all members of the Pieridae have 3 pairs of legs.
Laparus however are members of the Nymphalidae and thus have
only 2 visible pairs, as the front pair are reduced to very short
stumps. The shape of the wings is also much more elongated in
The various subspecies of Archonias brassolis
are variously distributed from Mexico to Paraguay. The race
negrina is restricted to southern
Amazonia, including Peru, Mato Grosso ( Brazil ), Bolivia and
Archonias brassolis negrina, Pauti, Junin, Peru ©
This species is found in rainforest and
cloudforest habitats at altitudes between about 300-1200m
The early stages are unknown.
butterflies are usually encountered singly or in low numbers. Males
are typically found amidst aggregations of
Heraclides, Laparus and other
species, imbibing water from the edges of puddles, seepages or small
streams. They can sometimes be seen perching on low foliage in forest
edge habitats, and often use the same perch for several days in
Both sexes visit Eupatorium and other
flowers for nectar, and keep their wings closed while feeding. On
overcast days however they will bask for long periods on low
vegetation with their wings fully or partially outspread.