Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
Lieinix nemesis, Tatama NP, Colombia ©
The Dismorphiinae is a small subfamily which includes the Wood
Whites of Europe, and about 50 neotropical species. Features common
to all Dismorphiine genera include the slightly tapered and
down-curved antennae, long thin abdomens, narrow forewings, and
hindwings that are noticeably greater in area than the forewings.
several Dismorphiine genera sexual dimorphism is very pronounced -
with females looking like fairly typical Pierids, while the males
are often patterned in orange and black, and closely resemble the
'tiger complex' Ithomiines. The naturalist Henry Walter Bates
observed this phenomenon and postulated the theory that the
non-toxic males had evolved to become mimics of toxic Ithomiines - a
theory now known as Batesian mimicry.
genus Lieinix ( formerly included in
Dismorphia ) was erected to include 6
species which are characterised by having narrow falcate forewings,
and slightly glossy mottled brownish undersides.
Lieinix nemesis is sexually dimorphic -
the upper surface of the male's forewings are black, spotted with
creamy white. The female's forewings are white with a black apical
area and a black streak across the discal cell.
species is distributed from Mexico to Peru.
Lieinix nemesis, Tingo Maria, Peru ©
This species is found in mid-elevation primary and secondary
cloudforest habitats, from about 600-1800m above sea level.
Lieinix nemesis, Manu cloudforest,
1500m, Peru ©
The eggs are pale yellow, and laid singly on young leaves of
Inga ( Mimosaceae ). The fully grown
larva is dark green and covered with short downy 'hair'. The pupa is
green, with bowed wing-cases and a strongly tapered head. It
projects at an angle of about 45 degrees from a stem, attached by
the cremaster, and supported by a silk girdle.
are usually encountered in one's or two's, imbibing dissolved minerals
from damp ground, and are strongly attracted to urine or sunlit
patches of damp rotting leaf litter. They are quite docile in
behaviour - if disturbed they meander about for a few moments,
fluttering slowly just above the surface of the ground, but soon
resettle, usually within a few metres of their original feeding
Females are seen much less frequently, but can sometimes be found
searching for oviposition sites at light gaps in the forest. On misty
days they can sometimes be found at rest on the foliage of tall bushes
in forest edge habitats.
Lieinix nemesis, Manu cloudforest, 1500m,