Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
Tribe - EUMAEINI
San Mateo, Peru ©
There are 1265 known neotropical species of Lycaenidae. The vast
majority of these - 1058 - are allocated to Theclinae, while 120 are
placed in Polyommatinae and 7 in Lycaeninae.
In 1990 Johnson
erected the genus
Penaincisalia, which he included in the
Theclinae ( hairstreaks ). For various reasons during the course of
1992 he renamed the genus several times, thus it has also been known
Abloxurina, Pos and
Candora. These names were all declared
invalid however, and all but one of the species were reverted to
Penaincisalia. The other species
planuma created a problem. It was
discovered that it's holotype had 4 radial veins on the forewing,
whereas all other Eumaeines have only three. Consequently in 2004
Robbins transferred this species to the Polyommatinae.
Penaincisalia comprises of 60 small
inconspicuous insects, most of which inhabit the transition zone
between the elfin cloudforests and dry plateaux of the Andes. The
males of most species including descimoni
have a purple or blue iridescence on the uppersides, although some
such as aurulenta have a coppery sheen
instead. In females the iridescence is greatly reduced or absent,
revealing the earthy brown ground colour. The undersides vary
according to species but are always cryptic. Some species are marked
so they resemble a dead leaf. Others including
descimoni have a dirty ochreous ground colour, with a series
of brown median and submarginal marks, enabling them to blend
perfectly against the boulders on which they frequently settle.
The wing shape is highly variable from one species to another - e.g.
biophot have very rounded wings, whereas in
tegulina and atymna the forewing
apex is acute, and the hindwings are extended to form tails
reminiscent of the Oriental genus Loxura.
Penaincisalia descimoni was first
discovered by Descimon in 1986 at Catac on the Cordillera Blanca in
Peru, and was formerly described by Johnson in 1990. It's precise
distribution is unknown, but it is likely to be restricted to a
relatively small area of Peru.
This species is found in elfin forest, and on barren rocky grassland
plateaux, at altitudes between 1500-3000m. The illustrated example
was found between La Oroya and San Mateo, on the western slopes of
the Andes, at an elevation of about 2000m.
To be completed.
butterflies are usually encountered as small colonies. Males can be
found perched at the apex of large boulders, which they presumably use
as territorial outlooks, from which they survey and intercept passing