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Butterflies of the Amazon and Andes
Telassa Firetip
Pyrrhopyge telassa HEWITSON, 1866
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRRHOPYGINAE
tribe - PYRRHOPYGINI

Pyrrhopyge telassa, Manu cloudforest, 1500m, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The subfamily Pyrrhopyginae comprises 163 known species, most of which are found only in the tropical rainforests and cloudforests of South America, although a few reach as far north as Mexico, and a single species reaches Arizona. They are characterised by having bodies which are very large in proportion to the wings. Other characteristics include a massive muscular thorax, compressed abdominal segments, prominent eyes, and antennae with recurved clubs.
The 38 species in the genus Pyrrhopyge are all similar in appearance, typically having a black or dark brown ground colour, and white or orange fringes. In all species the tip of the abdomen is red, and in many species including sergius and phidias the face is also red. Several of the orange-fringed species such as creona, telassa, telassina and hadassa have bright red shoulder streaks. Identifying each species is a matter of recognising the combination of face colour, shoulder-streak length, and the width and colour of the wing fringes. It is also necessary to examine the underside hindwings, which in telassa have a pair of red spots at their base.
Pyrrhopyge telassa occurs in Peru and Bolivia.

Pyrrhopyge telassa, Manu cloudforest, 1500m, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
This is a mid-elevation species, found at altitudes between about 400-1800m.
Lifecycle
To be completed.
Adult behaviour

In August 2008 at Rio Kosnipata I witnessed an aggregation of several hundred of these splendid butterflies at the edge of the fast flowing stream. Most were clustered very tightly at the base of a bridge, imbibing moisture from algae covered concrete. Only a few ventured away from this feeding area, which also attracted numerous other genera including Phoebis, Rhetus, Lasaia, Heraclides, Perisama, Eurema and Heliconius.

 

 

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