Butterflies of Cuba
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
There are 42
species in the genus Calisto, of which
1 is found on Jamaica, 1 on Puerto Rico, 1 on the British Virgin
Islands, and 2 on Cuba ( which both also occur in the Bahamas ). The
remaining 37 species are endemic to Haiti / Dominican Republic.
Calisto is the only Satyrine genus
occuring in the West Indies.
The upperside wing
surface of all species is dark earthy brown, and devoid of markings,
although the sex brands ( androconia ) of males differs in shape
from species to species. On the underside some species such as
chrysaoros are strikingly marked with
irregular bands of cream or white, while others such as
herophile have dark bands, and a large
ocellus on the hindwing.
The butterflies are
currently classified under the subtribe Pronophilina - a large group
of largely high elevation species from Central and South America.
Recent DNA evidence however suggests that
Calisto are more likely to be allied to Palaearctic taxa.
is a native of Cuba, including Isla de la Juventud. There are 3
Cuban subspecies - herophile, which
occurs in the lowlands; bruneri from
eastern Cuba; and parsonsi from the
Sierra del Escambray at 500-1000m altitude.
The only other Calisto species
found in Cuba is sibylla which also
occurs as 3 subspecies bradleyi,
smintheus. The latter is regarded as a full species by
sibylla also occur on the Bahamas, as subspecies
C. herophile apollinis, and
C. sibylla sibylla. The Bahamas also
hold a third species C. anegadensis.
Calisto herophile is a very common and
widespread species found at elevations between sea level and about
1200m. It occurs in a variety of habitats including open deciduous
woodland, scrubby grassland, hedgerows, thickets and overgrown
gardens throughout Cuba.
The egg is
globular, with a fine raised reticulation forming minute polygonal
areas. It is whitish when first laid but develops tawny-olive
markings after a day or two. The caterpillar is very pale greyish
brown, with wide dorsal and narrow paradorsal dark lines. It has a
granular texture, and is covered in short hairs. It feeds on various
grass species including maize and sugar cane.
The butterflies are
active both in sunshine and shade, flying slowly, weaving between
low growing plants, and often remaining on the wing for long periods
without settling. They commonly nectar at a variety of flowers
Eupatorium and Stachytarpheta.