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Butterflies of the Amazon rainforest
 
Pale Sulphur
Aphrissa statira  CRAMER, 1777
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Tribe - PIERINI
 
 introduction | habitats | lifecycle | adult behaviour
 

Aphrissa statira, male, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru
 
Introduction
 
The 8 species in the genus Aphrissa are neotropical in distribution.
 
On the upperside the male of statira is deep yellow at the base of the wings, with the outer third of both wings a very much paler greenish yellow. The female is a unicolorous lemon yellow, with a black spot in the fw discal cell, black wing margins and  black apex.
 
The closely related species A. boisduvalii often shares it's habitats with statira, but can be distinguished by it's much paler colouration in both sexes.
 
Aphrissa statira is by far the commonest and most widely distributed species, found from Florida to Bolivia.
 
Habitats
 
This species is usually seen along riverbanks and other open habitats at altitudes between sea level and about 1200 metres.
 
Lifecycle
 
The eggs are laid singly on the leaves of the larval foodplants.
 
The caterpillars use a variety of hostplants including Cassia, Dalbergia and Entada ( Leguminosae ), Callichamys ( Bignoniaceae ) and Calliandra ( Mimosaceae ). DeVries considers that there may be two separate species under the name statira, as there are 2 larval forms which use host plants. The form which feeds on Leguminosae is orange, tinged with greenish, and has a dark bluish band below the spiracles, and an orange head. The form that feeds on Bignoniaceae has a green head and a pale green body with a thin yellow lateral stripe.
 
The chrysalis ( Jamaican form ) varies in colour from grey to pale bluish-green, and has a thin reddish line along the back and a cream lateral line.
 
Adult behaviour

 

The butterfly is strongly migratory in behaviour, flying upriver in the latter part of the dry season, and downriver towards the sea in the wet season. It often continues out onto the open sea and colonises islands e.g. in the Antilles.

 

Males are usually found in groups, imbibing moisture from damp sand on riverbanks. Sometimes these groups are tightly packed, with up to 100 butterflies clustered together occupying a square foot or less of ground. It is more common however to find the butterflies intermingled amongst mixed aggregations of Rhabdodryas, Phoebis, Protesilaus and other predominantly white or pale yellow species.

 

Females do not visit sandbanks, but can be seen nectaring at flowers, and are particularly attracted to red or orange flowers such as Lantana.

 

 

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