Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Red Eye Skipper
Matapa aria  MOORE, 1866
subfamily - HESPERIINAE
Tribe -
Matapa aria, Ulu Gerok, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
Red eyes are a feature of a large number of Hesperiinae genera from various parts of the world, e.g. Lycas, Tisias, Carystus, Talides ( Peru ), Gangara, Matapa, Pirdana, Erionota ( Malaysia ) and Hesperilla ( Australia ). All 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 observer.
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.
The wings of Matapa aria are unmarked, and dark chocolate brown on both surfaces - the photo above depicts a faded example.
This 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. The larval foodplants are various species of bamboo - Bambusa and Ochlandra ( Poaceae ).
The chrysalis is formed within the larval shelter, and is attached by the cremaster to the silk lining. It is a very pale and glossy greenish-white colour, except for the eyes capsules which are red.
Adult behaviour
This species is usually encountered singly when attracted to house lights in the early evening. At dusk it can sometimes be seen nectaring at flowers. On the rarer occasions when it is seen in daylight it is usually quite reluctant to fly.


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