Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Leptophobia penthica, Ecuador
© Tony Hoare
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.
All the species have black markings on the upperside, which vary in
extent from species to species - philoma
for example has very broad black borders, with the ground colour
restricted to the base of the wings and a small white apical patch.
The underside hindwings are yellow in
dull brown in cinerea,
bright reflective silver in penthica,
and a silky greenish white in eleone.
All Leptophobia are high altitude
species, and are variously distributed from Costa Rica to Bolivia
Leptophobia penthica is found from
Colombia and Venezuela to Bolivia. There are 9 subspecies.
This is a cloudforest species found in the
vicinity of streams and small rivers at altitudes of between about
I have no data regarding penthica 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.
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 can be seen imbibing mineralised
moisture from road surfaces and the edges of mountain streams.
Both sexes visit Lantana,
Nasturtium and various other flowers for nectar.