Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - ITHOMIINI
subtribe - GODYRIDINI
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.
are basically 2 types of Ithomiine. The first type are the black and
orange-banded "tigers", many of which are mimicked by other species
due to their unpalatability to birds. The second type are the
"glasswings", recognised by their transparent or translucent wings,
prominent veins, and orange wing margins. Many genera contain
examples of both of these types, and in some cases an individual
species may produce adults of both forms according to location.
novices find the Ithomiini very difficult to identify. Using only
the patterns to identify species is very unreliable because there
are so many similar species. Also many species produce a variety of
different colour forms according to locality and season. The best
approach therefore is to use the hindwing venation and other
anatomical features to identify the genus, and to then look at the
wing patterns to short-list the likely species.
The genus Godyris
comprises 14 very attractive species, characterised by their
Godyris duillia is found
Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
This species inhabits rainforest habitats at altitudes between about
have no information specific to duillia
but the lifecycle is likely to be similar to that of
zavaleta as follows:
The egg is
white and laid singly on the foliage of Solanaceae.
The larva is naked and pale translucent green in
colour, with a shiny yellow head. It feeds diurnally on
chrysalis is also pale translucent green, dotted with black on the
wing cases. It is squat in shape with a strongly humped back, and
suspended from the underside of leaves.
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.
at the stems of
Eupatorium and Heliotropium, from
which they sequester pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These are processed
within their bodies to produce pheromones which are disseminated from
androconial scales in the form of "hair pencils" on the leading edge
of the hindwings. They can sometimes be seen slowly fanning their
wings to disperse the pheromones.