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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Mimic Crescent
Castilia eranites  HEWITSON, 1857
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - MELITAEINI
subtribe - PHYCIODINA
Castilia eranites, Tatama NP, Colombia  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The tribe Melitaeini is of worldwide distribution. It includes the Crescents and Checkerspots of North America, and many familiar European species such as the Marsh, Spotted and Heath Fritillaries.
Castilia are very closely related to Eresia, Anthanassa and Janatella, so closely in fact that these genera can only be distinguished by microscopic examination of the male genitalia.
The 13 Castilia species fall into 2 distinct groups. The first group includes castilla, northbrundii, neria, eranites and perilla. All of these have black wings marked with patches of red or orange, and some are convincing mimics of Altinote species. The second group includes ofella, myia, griseobasilis and angusta. These all have whitish spots on the forewings and a cream median band on the hindwings.

Castilia eranites is a common species, found from Mexico to Colombia and Venezuela.

Castilia eranites, Tatama NP, Colombia  Adrian Hoskins

Habitats
This species is found in forest edge habitats including roadsides, riverbanks and areas of secondary growth, at altitudes between about 500-1800m.
Lifecycle
The eggs of Castilia species are laid in batches of between 30-80 on the underside of leaves of the foodplants. They are laid in layers, a defence strategy that ensures that the bottom layer cannot be parasitised by Trichogrammatid wasps. The topmost eggs hatch first. The larvae then immediately eat their egg-shells, allowing those from the lower layers to hatch.
Castilia larvae feed gregariously on Acanthaceae, spinning a thin silk web over the leaves. In the early instars they eat only the leaf tissue, and skeletonise the leaves so that only the midrib, veins and cuticle remain. They are described by DeVries as being covered with dense bristles and with each segment bearing fleshy protuberances.
Adult behaviour

Males are usually seen singly but are sometimes encountered in large groups, imbibing mineralised moisture from river beaches, dry riverbeds and sunlit trails. They usually hold their wings fully outspread when feeding or at rest.

Castilia eranites, Tatama NP, Colombia  Adrian Hoskins

 

 

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