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Butterflies of the Andes
 
Telassina Firetip
Pyrrhopyge telassina  STAUDINGER, 1888
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRRHOPYGINAE
tribe - PYRRHOPYGINI
 
 introduction | habitats | lifecycle | adult behaviour
 

Pyrrhopyge telassina, Manu cloudforest, 1500m, Peru
 
Introduction
 
The subfamily Pyrrhopyginae includes 163 known species, all of which are restricted to the neotropical region.
 
The butterflies are characterised by having a massive and muscular thorax, a large head, and a conical abdomen with compressed segments. The wings of most species are black, often with a metallic blue sheen.
 
Several genera, including Jemadia and Elbella have a pattern of hyaline "windows" on the forewings, and are marked with stripes and bands of brilliant blue and white. Other genera such as Mysarbia, Mysoria and Pyrrhopyge lack the hyaline windows, and are characterised instead by having bright pink or red markings on the head and / or on the tip of the abdomen.
 
The 38 species in the genus Pyrrhopyge are all similar in appearance - the ground colour is blackish, usually with a slight bluish or bronzy sheen. In most species the wing fringes are white, but in a few they are orange. All species have a red "fire-tip" to the abdomen. In several species the head is red, and in a few including telassina there is a pair of prominent red or orange shoulder stripes on the thorax.
 
Pyrrhopyge telassina occurs in Peru and Bolivia.
 

Pyrrhopyge telassina, Manu cloudforest, 1500m, Peru
 
Habitats
 
This is a cloudforest species, found at altitudes between about 800-1800m.
 
Lifecycle
 
To be completed.
 
Adult behaviour

 

In August 2008 in Manu cloudforest I witnessed an aggregation of several hundred of these splendid butterflies at the edge of a fast flowing river. Most were clustered very tightly at the base of a bridge, imbibing moisture from algae covered concrete. Only a few ventured away from this feeding area, which also attracted numerous other genera including Phoebis, Rhetus, Lasaia, Heraclides, Perisama, Eurema and Heliconius.

 

 

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