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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Helvina Lady Slipper
Pierella helvina HEWITSON, 1859
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - HAETERINI
Pierella helvina, Colombia  Peter Bygate
Introduction
The tribe Haeterini is confined exclusively to the neotropical region. All members of this tribe are elusive crepuscular butterflies which spend their lives skulking deep in the undergrowth. There are 5 genera - Pierella, Pseudohaetera, Haetera, Dulcedo and Cithaerias.
The genus Pierella includes 11 species, all confined to the neotropical region. The butterflies can be instantly recognised by their characteristic wing shape, cryptic underside pattern, and their skulking flight just above the surface of the ground, in the darkness beneath the forest understorey.
All members of the genus have brown uppersides, marked on the forewings with thin, feint brown lines, and on the hindwings with dark post-median ocelli or spots. Many of the species have a blue suffusion over the hindwings, while others are marked variously with white, reddish or orange.
Pierella helvina is distributed from Guatemala to Colombia.
Habitats
This species inhabits rainforest and cloudforest at elevations between about 200-1200m.
Lifecycle
To be completed.
Adult behaviour

The butterflies are usually encountered in two's or three's along dark narrow forest trails or among bamboo thickets. They fly mainly in the gloom of pre-dawn, but can also be disturbed when walking along trails until mid-morning. Like all Pierella species the flight is low and skulking, but surprisingly rapid, and has been compared with the movements of a ballroom dancer's feet, hence the common name 'Ladies Slipper' or 'Lady Slipper'.

Pierella butterflies avoid sunshine, and by late morning have secreted themselves away deep in the undergrowth. On rare occasions just after dawn they will bask with the wings outspread for a few seconds but this is rarely observed. Both sexes feed at decomposing fungi and mouldy fruit on the forest floor.

 

 

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