Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Melite Mimic White
Family - PIERIDAE
Enantia melite theugnis, Satipo, Peru ©
The Dismorphiinae are a small subfamily of dainty
"whites" which includes the Wood Whites of Europe, and about 50
Features common to all Dismorphiine genera include the tapered and
down-curved antennae, long thin abdomens, elongated forewings, and
some Dismorphiine genera such as Dismorphia
sexual dimorphism is very pronounced, with females looking like
fairly typical Pierids, while the males are often patterned in
orange and black, closely resembling the "tiger complex" Ithomiines.
In Enantia sexual dimorphism is less
pronounced - the females are paler and less heavily marked than
males, but otherwise quite similar.
Enantia comprises of
9 species, 4 of which ( mazai,
and albania ) reach as far north as
Mexico, while the remainder are restricted to various parts of South
America. The ground colour on the upperside varies according to
species, from pure white to yellow or orange. The apex and outer
margins are black, but the markings vary in width and shape from
species to species.
The underside colour of all species is quite
variable and is not a reliable guide to identification, e.g. some
specimens of melite are a very pale
whitish yellow, while others, even from the same site, can be deep
the species requires examination of the upperside apical markings,
and the pattern on the underside - in mazai
for example the latter has pale brownish blotches, while in
limnorina there are greyish bars which vary in curvature
according to species. In melite the
bars are parallel, but pincer together at the h/w apex.
Enantia melite occurs from Mexico to
Uruguay. The illustrated subspecies theugnis
is found in the eastern Andes from central Peru to Bolivia.
Enantia melite theugnis, Pauti, Junin, Peru ©
This species is found in transitional rainforest / cloudforest
habitats, at altitudes between about 400-1600m. It is usually seen
in mildly disturbed areas such as roadsides and riverbanks.
The early stages are unknown.
Males are usually encountered in
one's or two's among aggregations of mud-puddling butterflies, and are
strongly attracted to urine-tainted sand. They always keep their wings
closed while feeding, and often adopt a forward-canted position.
Females are seen much less
frequently, but can sometimes be found nectaring at
Lantana and other flowering plants.