Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Leptophobia eleone, Manu cloudforest, 1700m, Peru ©
In the neotropical region there are a total of 192 representatives
of the subfamily Pierinae.
The genus Leptophobia comprises of 20
currently known species. Three of these have only recently been
discovered ( 2000-2003 ) and are as yet unnamed.
Most Leptophobia species have a white
or creamy ground colour but a few including the typical form of
eleone are bright primrose yellow. The
pale cream form of eleone illustrated
here is unusual.
All Leptophobia species have black
markings on the upperside but these vary in extent from species to
species. The underside hindwings are yellow in
caesia, bright reflective silver in
penthica, dull brown in
cinerea, and a silky greenish white in
All Leptophobia are high altitude
species, and are variously distributed from Costa Rica to Bolivia
and Argentina. Leptophobia eleone is
found from Colombia to Bolivia.
This is a cloudforest species found in the
vicinity of streams and small rivers at altitudes of between about
1000-2400 metres. The butterflies fly throughout the year.
I have no data regarding eleone, but
other Leptophobia species are known to
use Capparidaceae, Brassicaceae and Tropaeolaceae as larval
foodplants. These plants contain mustard oils so it seems likely
that the larvae would be noxious to birds, and that these properties
are transmitted to the adult butterflies.
The eggs are spindle-shaped, yellowish in colour, and laid either
singly or in clusters of up to 20, according to species. The
caterpillars are green, sometimes with blue or orange markings, and
are slightly hairy. They live gregariously in groups of mixed
instars. It is interesting also to note that according to DeVries
the larvae are able to walk on the surface film of water.
Leptophobia eleone, Manu
cloudforest, 1700m, Peru ©
butterflies are usually encountered singly in the vicinity of streams
and waterfalls. They fly low over the ground with a
rapid erratic zigzag flight. Males imbibe mineralised moisture from
seepages, road surfaces and the shores of shallow streams.
Both sexes visit Lantana,
Nasturtium and various other flowers for nectar.