Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
Tribe - EUMAEINI
Manu cloudforest, Peru ©
Almost all neotropical Theclinae species are placed in the Eumaeini.
The tribe is not particularly well represented in collections, so
until fairly recently a high percentage remained unstudied, and were
inappropriately filed away in the 'convenience' genus
Thecla. Many taxonomists have attempted
to rationalise the systematics of the Eumaeini, the most recent
being Robbins who published a revision in 2004, reclassifying the
taxa into 83 genera. Currently there are 1058 known species. Taking
into account their small size, secretive behaviour, and the great
similarities between many species, it is estimated that about
another 200 species probably remain to be discovered.
Terenthina comprises just 2 species -
bradyae, which is distributed from Costa Rica to Ecuador and
Venezuela; and terentia, which is found
in the Orinoco, the Amazon basin and the south-eastern Andes.
This species occurs in rainforest and cloudforest habitats at
altitudes between about 200-1800 m.
Both sexes nectar at
Senecio and other wild flowers, spending
long periods walking slowly about visiting every flower head on each
As they move about, they slowly
oscillate the hindwings. This has the effect of drawing attention to
the false eyespot and also causes the "false antennae" tails to
wiggle. It is generally accepted that this functions to divert bird
attacks away from the butterfly's body, and onto the outer wing area,
allowing the butterfly to escape with just a peck taken out of it's
wing. However it is notable that wing oscillation is commonly
practiced by most other Eumaeines, including many which have neither
eyespots or false antennae. Clearly the explanation for this practice
lies elsewhere. Eumaeine males have a patch of androconia ( scent
scales ) on the upper wings, and it is the author's opinion that
oscillating the hindwings would serve to dislodge some of these scales
and assist in disseminating the pheromones. It would therefore make an
interesting study to ascertain whether this practice is adopted by
both sexes, or just by males.