Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
Steremnia monachella monachella,
Manu cloudforest, 2800m, Peru ©
There are 1100 known species of Satyrinae in the neotropical region.
About 570 of these are placed in the
subtribe Pronophilina - a diverse group of high altitude cloudforest
butterflies, all of which are confined to the neotropical region.
The vast majority are found only in the Andes, but 4 species are
known from the Atlantic cloudforests of Brazil, and there are a
further 6 species that are endemic to Guatemala, Costa Rica or
Mexico. More oddly there is one genus Calisto
that is found exclusively on the Caribbean islands of Cuba and
The genus Steremnia
comprises of 11 small dark butterflies, which are variously
distributed across the cloudforests of the Andes from Colombia and
Venezuela to Bolivia. They have a characteristic angular fw apex,
and many including monachella also have
deeply scalloped hindwings.
is known from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
This attractive species occurs at altitudes between about
2000-3000m, in cloudforest and transitional cloudforest / grassland
habitats on the eastern slopes of the Andes.
The lifecycle appears to be unrecorded. The following
generalisations are applicable to the subtribe Pronophilina and
probably also apply to
eggs are globular, white or pale greenish white, and laid singly on
the foodplants or on surrounding vegetation. The larvae are
typically pale brown, marked along the back and sides with narrow
dark stripes, and tapering towards each end. The head is large in
proportion to the body and has two short forward-pointing horns. The
tip of the abdomen is equipped with a pair of caudal prongs which
are used to flick the frass away from the feeding area.
The larvae of all known Pronophilina feed on
Chusquea - a genus of bamboo which
grows in thickets, mainly along the courses of streams.
Males can be found on sunny
mornings, in the company of other Pronophilines, imbibing moisture
from roadside gullies, ditches and patches of damp decaying
vegetation. The specimen illustrated above is feeding at a bird
dropping which it is moistening with its own urine. Using this system
it is able to extract mineral salts from the dropping. This method of
dissolving dry mineral deposits with urine is also used frequently
when drinking from rocks, road surfaces or decomposed vegetation.