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Butterflies of the Amazon rainforest
 
Cassiae Owlet
Opsiphanes cassiae  LINNAEUS, 1758
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - MORPHINAE
Tribe - BRASSOLINI
subtribe - BRASSOLINA
 
 introduction | habitats | lifecycle | adult behaviour
 

Opsiphanes cassiae, Pantiacolla, Rio Alto Madre de Dios, Peru
 
Introduction
 
The Morphinae includes an estimated 140-150 neotropical species, 93 of which are placed in the tribe Brassolini. Of these, 73 are placed in the Brassolina - a subtribe which includes Blepolenis, Brassolis, Caligopsis, Catoblepia, Dasyopthalma, Dynastor, Mielkella, Eryphanis, Mimoblepia, Opoptera, Penetes, Opsiphanes, Orobrassolis,  Selenophanes, and Caligo. All are crepuscular or nocturnal in behaviour, although a few species also fly by day in the darkest areas within their habitats.
 
The genus Opsiphanes comprises of 11 known species distributed variously from Mexico to Paraguay and Argentina. The butterflies are noted for their robust bodies, large heads and eyes. The forewing costa is strongly curved, and the termen slightly concave. In all species the upperside wings are earthy brown in colour with a diagonal orange band on the forewings starting midway along the costa and terminating at the tornus. The undersides of all species are a pale dingy hue, heavily marked with dark striations on the outer half of the wings, and marbled at the base. The hindwings also bear a very conspicuous mark in the form of an ocellus or swollen comma near the costa, and a smaller almost circular ocellus near the tornus.
 
Opsiphanes cassiae occurs from Mexico to Bolivia.
 
Habitats
 
This species is found in primary and secondary rainforest, at altitudes up to about 1000m.
 
Lifecycle
 
I have no data relating specifically to cassiae, but the following applies to Opsiphanes in general :
 
The eggs are globular, and laid singly, typically on the stems or dead leaf blades of the foodplants. The larvae feed, depending on species, on Heliconia ( Heliconiaceae ), Musa ( Musaceae ), Acroconia, Cocos, Bactris ( Arecaceae ) and probably other monocotyledons - coconuts, bananas, palms etc. The larvae are typically pale earthy brown in colour, with numerous fine dark lines along the back and sides. They have a pair of prominent caudal prongs, and their heads bear a crown of between 4-8 horns.
 
Adult behaviour

 

Opsiphanes are usually encountered at dawn, often in two's and three's, in the company of Eryphanis, Selenophanes, Narope, Prepona and Memphis species, feeding at rotting fruit on the forest floor. At such times they are usually so engrossed in feeding that they are very reluctant to move. They also feed at decomposing fruit in the canopy, and occasionally at peccary dung or urine.

 

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