South America – Butterflies

I especially enjoyed seeing butterflies and moths on this trip – I’d never been to South America or to the tropics before, so all of these are new species for me.

Here are photos of all the butterflies I saw – at least, all the ones I could get photos of.  I’m still trying to identify them – these names are my best guesses so far.

We only saw a few butterflies at Machu Picchu – the ruins don’t have much vegetation around them, so we didn’t see any wildlife until we walked past the ruins, up into the mountains.  But along the trails, where there are bushes and trees and flowers clinging to the mountainsides, we did see some butterflies.

This was a gorgeous hairstreak.  I tried hard to get a better picture, but it was perched on the edge of a steep slope, and I wasn’t able to get very close.

The first place we stayed in Ecuador was on the western slope of the Andes, at about 2000 meters (6500 feet) above sea level, and right at the equator.    It’s called the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve.  The weather is cool and wet – not great for butterflies – but there were moments of sunshine, and I did find some butterflies.

Peucestas Satyr – Pedaliodes peucestas – I think

Here are two butterflies – the one on the right is a skipper.

This is the same individual as the butterfly on the left in the previous photo.

This was a gorgeous skipper.  (Family Hesperiidae) I saw several similar butterflies – I don’t know if they were all the same species.  These next 3 photos are all the same individual – I followed it around for a while trying to get a better picture.

This is in the genus Adelpha – one of the Sisters butterflies.  (There are several species of Sisters that live in the southwestern and western U.S. – this species is one I hadn’t seen before.)

The second place we visited in Ecuador was Sani Lodge – in tropical jungle along the Napo River.  It was much warmer, and there were more butterflies.

Another Sister Butterfly – in the genus Adelpha.

Callicore sp. – I think.  Butterflies in this genus – along with some in similar genera – are often called “Eighty-eights” because of the patterns on the hindwings.  The upper sides of their wings are velvety black with bright blue stripes.

A Satyr – I can’t even guess at a genus

I think this is a Glassy winged Skipper (Xenophanes tryxus) or a closely related species.

Sunset Daggerwing (I think) – Marpesia furcula

A fuzzy photo of the underside of the Sunset Daggerwing

Cambridge Blue – Pseudolycaena marsyas – a large, showy hairstreak

A Purplewing – Eunica sp. This butterfly was very friendly – it fluttered around me and landed on my hand several times – always too close to the camera.

There are many species that look like this – I don’t have any idea what it might be.

One of the Clearwing butterflies – Cithaerias sp.  The wings are transparent.

Another Cithaerias sp.

An Owl Butterfly – Caligo sp. These butterflies are amazing – they’re bigger than my outstretched hand.  They’re crepuscular – they fly at dusk and dawn – and during the day they rest on branches or tree trunks.

Another species of Owl Butterfly – Caligo sp. This one was dead – hanging from a branch – so we pulled the wings apart to see the top surfaces.

This is a Panacea sp. – I think P. regina.  – a Queen Flasher.  Here’s a wonderful page about the 3 Panacea sp., with some great photos.  The underside of these butterflies – all 3 species – has large bright red patches.  I wish I had seen that – but this one always landed with its wings open, so I never saw the underside.