Thailand, Malaysia &
Red Eye Skipper
Family - HESPERIIDAE
Ulu Gerok, West Malaysia ©
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 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
This species is found in primary and secondary
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 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.
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.