Butterflies of the
Red Eye Skipper
Family - HESPERIIDAE
© Adrian Hoskins
Red eyes are a
feature of a large number of Hesperiinae genera from various parts
of the world, e.g. Lycas,
Talides ( Peru ),
Gangara, Matapa, Pirdana,
Erionota ( Malaysia ) and
Hesperilla ( Australia ).
of these butterflies are either crepuscular, i.e. flying mainly at
dawn and dusk; or are found in the depths of the forest where little
sunlight penetrates even in the middle of the day. They therefore
need particularly acute vision and high sensitivity in low light. In
the eyes of all Hesperiidae the distance between the cones and rods,
and the sensory cells behind them is greater than in other butterfly
families. This allows more light to spill onto neighbouring rods,
which increases resolution and sensitivity. In the case of the
red-eyed genera the distance between the cones and rods is such that
only certain wavelengths of light are reflected back to the
There are 8
Matapa species, all found in the
Indo-Australian region. Matapa aria is
the commonest and most widespread of these, being found in India,
Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.
species is found in primary and secondary lowland rainforest.
The larva is
whitish, with noticeably wrinkled skin. It has a yellowish-brown
head, slightly marked with black on the mouth. It lives within a
shelter constructed by rolling a bamboo leaf into a tube, fastened
together with silk.
foodplants are various species of bamboo -
Bambusa and Ochlandra ( Poaceae
The pupa is formed
within the larval shelter, attached by the cremaster to the silk
lining. It is pale greenish-white, with red eye capsules.
species is usually encountered singly when attracted to house lights
in the early evening. At dusk it can sometimes be seen nectaring at