Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - ITHOMIINI
subtribe - GODYRIDINI
© Adrian Hoskins
The Ithomiini comprises of 376 known species,
although it is likely that at least another 30 will be discovered in
the near future. All are confined to the neotropical region.
are unpalatable to birds, and are consequently mimicked in
appearance by many other species. These include other unpalatable
species ( Müllerian mimics ), not only from the Ithomiinae but also
from several other butterfly families. There are also a large number
of edible species ( Batesian mimics ) which have evolved similar
patterns. Birds have the ability to memorise butterfly patterns and
so learn to avoid eating noxious species, but are also fooled into
ignoring similarly marked edible species.
characterised by having small eyes, slender abdomens and long
drooping antennae that lack distinct clubs. Males have a plume of
long androconial scales or "hair pencils" on the costa of their
hindwings. These are hidden from view when the butterflies are at
rest, but are displayed when the wings are held open during
courtship. Other Ithomiine characteristics include a very slow and
deep wing beat, and a preference for inhabiting the darkest recesses
of the forest understorey.
are basically 2 types of Ithomiine. The first type are the black and
orange-banded 'tigers', many of which are mimicked by other species
due to their unpalatability to birds. The second type are the
'glasswings', recognised by their transparent or translucent wings,
prominent veins, and orange wing margins. Many genera contain
examples of both of these types, and in some cases an individual
species may produce adults of both forms according to location.
are 30 known Greta species, including 8
which have only recently been discovered and have not yet been
assigned scientific names. The species are variously distributed
from Mexico to Bolivia. All Greta
species are of the 'glasswing' type. They are characterised by
having distinctive venation, long dark antennae, and scalloped
submarginal borders. The clear areas of the wings are untinted in
most species, and have a pattern of pure white suffused post-discal
and submarginal spots.
Greta andromica is distributed from
Mexico to Peru.
This species inhabits cloudforest at altitudes between about
600-2200m. The adults are often seen along roadsides, nectaring at
Eupatorium on cloudy mornings.
The eggs are white, and are laid singly on the foodplant
Cestrum ( Solanaceae ). The caterpillar
is translucent whitish-green with a pair of dark yellow stripes
running along the length of the back. The chrysalis is
chrome-silver, giving the impression of a large rain drop.
are usually encountered in the company of other Ithomiines, nectaring
at Eupatorium flowers, or imbibing fluids
the stems of
Heliotropium, from which they sequester pyrrolizidine
alkaloids. These are processed within their bodies to produce
pheromones which are disseminated from androconial scales in the form
of 'hair pencils' on the leading edge of the hindwings. They can
sometimes be seen slowly fanning their wings to disperse the