Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Tribe - EUDAMINI
Epargyreus exadeus, Satipo, Peru ©
Hesperiidae comprises of 5 subfamilies - Hesperiinae,
Heteropterinae, Pyrrhopyginae, Pyrginae and Megathyminae.
Pyrgini tribe usually rest and bask with their wings fully
outspread, but the Eudamini usually hold their wings either fully or
partially raised while feeding.
tribe includes 44 genera in the neotropical region, amongst which
are the Long-tailed Skippers Urbanus,
Aguna; and other familiar genera as
Phocides, Autochton and
There are 18
described species in the genus Epargyreus,
all featuring one or more large, irregularly shaped white
"silver-drop" spots on the underside hindwings. The shape and size
of the spots varies according to species, and also varies somewhat
within each species, so it can be difficult to identify these
butterflies without killing them to dissect the genitalia. The
identification of the illustrated butterfly should be regarded as
There are at least
6 Epargyreus species found in Peru. The
known distribution of exadeus stretches
from Mexico to Brazil.
is found in rainforest and cloudforest habitats at altitudes between
To be completed.
Epargyreus exadeus, Catarata de Tirol,
La Merced, Peru ©
These butterflies are usually
encountered singly. In common with other Eudamini, the males of this
species are attracted to bird droppings. They are also strongly
attracted to mineral-rich moisture, and can be seen drinking at damp
sand, stone walls and rocky overhangs. On hot sunny days they can be
found extracting moisture from these substrates with their
proboscises, filtering out sodium and other minerals, and curving
their abdomen forward to squirt the filtered water out from their anus
onto the ground beneath their feet. They use the filtered water to
dissolve further minerals from the soil, which they re-imbibe. This
"filter-feeding" is practised by the males of many butterfly species,
but is most commonly observed in skippers and in swallowtails.
The flight is powerful, with the
butterflies circling and zig-zagging very rapidly just above the
surface of the ground, prior to settling. They have a very nervous
disposition, but eventually become so engrossed in feeding that they
can be approached and photographed.