Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - ITHOMIINI
Ecuador © Tony
The Ithomiini comprises of 376 known species,
although it is likely that at least another 30 will be discovered in
the near future. All are confined to the neotropical region.
are unpalatable to birds, and are consequently mimicked in
appearance by many other species. These include other unpalatable
species ( Müllerian mimics ), not only from the Ithomiinae but also
from several other butterfly families. There are also a large number
of edible species ( Batesian mimics ) which have evolved similar
patterns. Birds have the ability to memorise butterfly patterns and
so learn to avoid eating noxious species, but are also fooled into
ignoring similarly marked edible species.
characterised by having small eyes, slender abdomens and long
drooping antennae that lack distinct clubs. Males have a plume of
long androconial scales or "hair pencils" on the costa of their
hindwings. These are hidden from view when the butterflies are at
rest, but are displayed when the wings are held open during
courtship. Other Ithomiine characteristics include a very slow and
deep wing beat, and a preference for inhabiting the darkest recesses
of the forest understorey.
genus Elzunia consists of just 2
species, humboldt and
pavonii. Both are black on the
upperside, banded and spotted with white. On the underside
humboldt has a singly large
reddish-orange patch on the outer part of the hindwing, but
pavonii has 2 bands of red-orange
Elzunia pavonii is distributed from
Panama to Peru, and is found on both sides of the Andes.
This species inhabits rainforest and cloudforest at altitudes
between about 400-2000m.
butterflies are normally encountered singly. They are rather inactive,
and fly slowly with deep wing-beats, but can put on a quick turn of
speed if disturbed.
Males can be found
imbibing moisture from damp ground. Females are usually encountered
nectaring at the flowers of bushes.