Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Helvina Lady Slipper
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - HAETERINI
Pierella helvina, Colombia ©
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 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.
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.
This species inhabits rainforest and cloudforest at elevations
between about 200-1200m.
To be completed.
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.