Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Peruvian Puna Skipper
Family - HESPERIIDAE
Hylephila peruana, Peru ©
Hylephila contains 21 known species
which are all confined to the neotropical region, with the exception
of phyleus which has a range extending
from Canada to northern Argentina.
Hylephila are characterised by having
dark brown uppersides, with the forewings heavily marked with
streaks and jagged bands of bright orange or yellowish; and the
hindwings extensively suffused with the same colour. Males are
noticeably darker than females. The underside wings of both sexes
are yellowish or straw-coloured, with contrasting brown or blackish
spots which vary in size and shape from one species to another. In
all species the antennae are short and yellowish.
Hylephila peruana is
one of many very similar species which fly on the puna and paramo
grasslands of the Andes. These include
fasciolata, tentativa and
rossi, most of which are endemic to
particular areas of Peru. The precise distribution of
peruana is poorly understood due to
confusion with other species.
Hylephila peruana, La Oroya, Peru ©
is one of a very small number of butterfly species which occur on
the puna - high altitude grasslands where temperatures drop to near
freezing conditions overnight, while daytime temperatures often
reach 25°C. These grasslands are only found above the tree-line, and
at 3500m or higher are usually above the clouds, and bathed in
sunshine for most of the year.
I have no
data regarding peruana. The following
however is applicable to the closely related species
phyleus, and probably applies also to
The eggs are pale greenish-white, and laid singly on the underside
of leaves of the foodplants.
The larval foodplants are grasses ( unspecified
in the case of peruana ).
larva when fully grown varies in colour from yellowish brown to drab
green, and is marked with dark longitudinal stripes along the back
and sides. It lives within a nest constructed by binding grass
blades together with strands of silk. The chrysalis varies in colour
from pale green to yellowish brown, and is mottled on the back with
dark brown. It has a dark longitudinal line along each side, and
another along the back.
The butterflies are usually
encountered in small colonies. Males perch on rocks or among grasses,
usually with their wings held in the characteristic Hesperiine
position - hindwings outspread, and forewings held up at 45 degrees.
In hot conditions at midday they close their wings to regulate their
Both sexes visit a variety of
flower species for nectar, including Senecio.
Hylephila peruana female, La Oroya, Peru ©