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Butterflies of the Amazon rainforest
 
Glauce Leafwing
Memphis glauce  FELDER & FELDER, 1862
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Tribe - ANAEINI
 
 introduction | habitats | lifecycle | adult behaviour
 

Memphis glauce, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ( image courtesy Peter Bruce-Jones )
 
Introduction
 
The tribe Anaeini comprises of 87 neotropical species in the genera Coenophlebia, Consul, Anaea, Polygrapha, Memphis, Siderone, Fountainea and Zaretis. The butterflies are characterised by having a very rapid and strong flight. They have stout bodies, falcate wings, and on the upper surface are generally black, marked with bands of orange, bright red, or lustrous blue according to species. The undersides of all species in the Anaeini are cryptically patterned in mottled brown tones, and bear a very strong resemblance to dead leaves.
 
The genus Memphis includes 60 species, all restricted to the neotropical region. The forewings of all species have a falcate apex, and a concave dorsum. In many species the tornus of the forewing is very strongly hooked.
 
Males of all Memphis species are black or dark chocolate brown on the uppersides, with extensive metallic blue or turquoise scaling over the basal half of the wings, and usually with additional blue spots or bands in the subapical area. Females are generally very similar, but usually a different shade of blue-green than their male counterparts, and often have short tails on the hindwings. In the case of glauce, moruus, arginussa and several other species, both sexes are tailed. In one species philumena the females have broad orange diagonal bands on the forewings. The most spectacular species is Memphis anna from Colombia - both sexes are brilliant metallic sapphire blue, with a broad scarlet band on the forewings of the male, and a bright orange patch in the female.
 
Memphis glauce is a common species found throughout the Amazonian region.
 
Habitats
 
This species occurs in rainforest at elevations between sea level and about 800m.
 
Lifecycle
 
The eggs are smooth, globular, and laid singly on leaves of the foodplant.
 
The larval foodplants are unknown, but are likely to be in the families Piperaceae, Euphorbiaceae or Lauraceae. Larvae of all Memphis species are cylindrical, tapering towards the bifid tail, and covered with tiny granulations or very short bristles. They are typically green or brown, marked with a series of fine longitudinal lines. The head is large, and bears a crown of short pointed tubercles. When small, the larvae make frass-chains ( chains of dried droppings ) on the tips of leaves. When older they live within leaf tubes made from rolled up leaves bound together with silk, and only emerge when feeding.
 
The chrysalis of all species is stocky and barrel-shaped, with a very large thoracic section, and highly compressed abdominal segments. It is typically green or brownish, lightly marbled, and is suspended by the cremaster from a leaf or stem.
 

Memphis glauce, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru ( image courtesy Peter Bruce-Jones )
 
Adult behaviour

 

Like all Memphis species this butterfly is strongly attracted to rotting fruit and other decaying matter on the forest floor. It is typically encountered in damp semi-shaded situations, and is sometimes seen basking on foliage where dappled sunlight filters through the canopy. At such times it is nervous of intruders, and if disturbed will fly up to settle on nearby foliage at a height of about 2 or 3 metres.

 

 

 

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