Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
Tatama NP, Colombia
There are 1100 known species of Satyrinae in the neotropical region.
About 570 of these are placed in the subtribe Pronophilina - a
diverse group of high altitude cloudforest butterflies, all of which
are confined to the neotropical region. The vast majority are found
only in the Andes, but 4 species are known from the Atlantic
cloudforests of Brazil, and there are a further 6 species that are
endemic to Guatemala, Costa Rica or Mexico. More oddly there is one
genus Calisto that is found exclusively
on the Caribbean islands of Cuba and Hispaniola.
Pedaliodes comprises of over 270 known
species, with new species being discovered at regular intervals as
their remote cloudforest habitats become more fully explored. No
less than 114 'new' Pedaliodes species
were discovered and described between 1999 and 2004 by Viloria,
Lamas, Pyrcz and other workers. The eventual total is expected to
exceed 600 species.
Pedaliodes are small to medium sized
butterflies. The vast majority have plain, blackish uppersides,
although several species e.g. peruda,
triaria are banded with orange. The undersides of all species
are brown or blackish, mottled with cream or white, and in some
species marbled or banded prominently with cream.
Some of the species are widespread but many are confined to remote
Andean peaks, isolated from their cogeners. Many are so similar that
identification cannot be determined without dissecting and
microscopically examining the genitalia. My determination of the
illustrated insect as marmelsi must therefore be regarded as
Pedaliodes marmelsi was discovered in
Venezuela. If my determination is correct it also occurs in
Pedaliodes species this is a butterfly
of the high Andes, found in stunted cloudforest, and transitional
cloudforest / puna or paramo grassland habitats. The illustrated
butterfly was found at an elevation of circa 2000m.
I have no data specific to demarmelsi.
It is likely however that the lifecycle is similar to that of other
Pedaliodes species as follows: The eggs
are white and globular with minute vertical striations. They are
laid singly or in pairs on the undersides of
Chusquea leaves. At sites where the butterflies breed in
severely disturbed areas, the larvae of some species i.e.
and palaepolis have been found on
Festuca and Poa
The caterpillars when small are pale green with whitish longitudinal
stripes along the back and sides. The head is brown with two bumps.
Final instar caterpillars are straw coloured, with a series of pale
and darker longitudinal stripes. The pupa is straw coloured, lightly
mottled or flecked with brown. It is suspended from stems or leaves.
Several days before eclosion the pupa becomes dark brown.
common with other Pedaliodes species this
not a particularly active insect. It spends much of its time sitting
on rocks with wings closed, taking advantage of the reflected warmth
to raise its body temperature.