Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Pereute callinira, Rio Tambo, Peru ©
In the neotropical region there are a total of 192 representatives
of the subfamily Pierinae, of which 9 species are placed in the
The butterflies are instantly recognisable by their sooty upperside
wings, which in most species are marked with a red or creamy
diagonal band on the forewings, and a powdery blue sheen on the
hindwings. The undersides are a very dark earthy colour in all
species, and have 2 or 3 prominent orange or red spots at the base
of the hindwings. All Pereute species
have straight white antennae.
Pereute callinira is distributed across
the eastern Andes, in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
This butterfly occurs in cloudforest and rainforest habitats at
elevations between about 400-1500m. It is usually
encountered in the vicinity of small streams.
The eggs are yellow, and laid in untidy heaps on the undersides of
leaves of Loranthaceae. The larvae are gregarious.
Early in the day
males perch high in the canopy and chase each other rapidly in wide
circles around the tree tops.
In late morning
they descend to the understorey, and in the afternoon are
sometimes encountered in the vicinity of streams and waterfalls. In
common with the males of numerous other butterflies of all families,
they imbibe mineralised moisture in order to procure vital salts.
However whereas most species choose to imbibe from patches of damp
ground, Pereute males have the peculiar
habit of sitting in precarious positions, sometimes partially
submerged, among pebbles in the middle of fast flowing shallow
streams. I have come across this phenomenon numerous times with
various Pereute species in Costa Rica,
Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru, but can find no logical explanation.
Pereute males are exceedingly placid. No amount of molestation
will cause them to fly, but conversely when encountered at rest on
foliage on narrow forest trails, they are extremely alert and very
difficult to approach.