Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
Tribe - EUMAEINI
hightoni (or sister species),
eastern Andes, 2000m, Peru ©
Almost all neotropical Theclinae species are placed in the Eumaeini.
The tribe is not particularly well represented in collections, so
until fairly recently a high percentage remained unstudied, and were
inappropriately filed away in the 'convenience' genus
Thecla. Many taxonomists have attempted
to rationalise the systematics of the Eumaeini, the most recent
being Robbins who published a revision in 2004, reclassifying the
taxa into 83 genera. Currently there are 1063 known species. Taking
into account their small size, secretive behaviour, and the great
similarities between many species, it is estimated that about
another 200 species probably remain to be discovered.
years, the butterfly illustrated here remained a mystery. It did not
correspond with any taxon illustrated in d'Abrera or any taxonomic
revision that I examined, and in the absence of a voucher specimen
it was not possible to determine the genus by genitalic examination
or DNA analysis. Consultation with several leading authorities on
the Eumaeini however produced a tentative determination:
image of the Rio Kosnipata insect was first examined by Faynel who
considers that 'the ventral wing pattern of the Peruvian specimen
looks like a Parrhasius or
Thepytus species, but the double
androconia (scent pad + scent patch) on the dorsal FW of Balint’s
specimen refute this hypothesis and suggest a generic placement in
However, Robbins stated that, in the absence of a specimen it was
'unwise to make a guess at the generic affinity of the Peruvian
specimen, as similar verso patterns have evolved independently
several times in Andean theclines'.
examined a visually identical specimen from Venezuela and orginally
suggested it should be placed in Siderus.
However, after further examination he erected a new genus
Meridaria and named the Venezuelan
species as hightoni, after the
collector who discovered it. Balint considers that the Peruvian
insect depicted above may be a sister species of
thanks go to Zsolt Bálint, Christophe Faynel and Bob Robbins for
their valued comments.
The Peruvian individual was photographed at an elevation of about
1800-2000m, in cloudforest at Rio Kosnipata. This probably
represents the upper elevational limit for the butterfly, as
hairstreak diversity decreases rapidly above about 1800m. The
Venezuelan specimen was captured by Alan Highton at an elevation of
1400m at San Isidro in Venezuela.
Alan Highton, used by permission of Zsolt
This seems to be a canopy species
which descends to take nectar along roadsides.