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Butterflies of the Caribbean
 
Hϋbner's Glad-eye
Calisto herophile  HÜBNER, 1823
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
subtribe - PRONOPHILINA
 
 introduction | habitats | lifecycle | adult behaviour
 
Calisto herophile parsonsi, Cuba.  ( image courtesy © Peter Bruce-Jones )
 
Introduction
 
There are 42 species in the genus Calisto, of which 1 is found on Jamaica, 1 on Puerto Rico, 1 on the British Virgin Islands, and 2 on Cuba ( which both also occur in the Bahamas ). The remaining 37 species are endemic to Haiti / Dominican Republic. Calisto is the only Satyrine genus occuring in the West Indies.
 
The upperside wing surface of all species is dark earthy brown, and devoid of markings, although the sex brands ( androconia ) of males differs in shape from species to species. On the underside some species such as chrysaoros are strikingly marked with irregular bands of cream or white, while others such as herophile have dark bands, and a large ocellus on the hindwing.
 
The butterflies are currently classified under the subtribe Pronophilina - a large group of largely high elevation species from Central and South America. Recent DNA evidence however suggests that Calisto are more likely to be allied to Palaearctic taxa.
 
Calisto herophile is a native of Cuba, including Isla de la Juventud. There are 3 Cuban subspecies - herophile, which occurs in the lowlands; bruneri from eastern Cuba; and parsonsi from the Sierra del Escambray at 500-1000m altitude.
 
The only other Calisto species found in Cuba is sibylla, which also occurs as 3 subspecies, listed by Lamas as bradleyi, muripetens and smintheus. It is a woodland species found chiefly at elevations above 1000m.
 
It should be noted that Hernandez, an authority on Cuban butterflies, regards smintheus as a full species, endemic to Cuba. He names muripetens, bradleyi, and also delos, brochei and israeli as colour forms of smintheus.
 
Both herophile and sibylla also occur on the Bahamas, as subspecies C. herophile apollinis, and C. sibylla sibylla. The Bahamas also hold a third species C. anegadensis.
 
Habitats
 
Calisto herophile is a very common and widespread species found at elevations between sea level and about 1200m. It occurs in a variety of habitats including open deciduous woodland, scrubby grassland, hedgerows, thickets and overgrown gardens throughout Cuba.

 

Lifecycle
 
The egg is globular, with a fine raised reticulation forming minute polygonal areas. It is whitish when first laid but develops tawny-olive markings after a day or two.
 
The caterpillar is very pale greyish brown, with wide dorsal and narrow paradorsal dark lines. It has a granular texture, and is covered in short hairs. It feeds on various grass species including maize and sugar cane.
 
Adult behaviour

 

The butterflies are active both in sunshine and shade, flying slowly, weaving between low growing plants, and often remaining on the wing for long periods without settling. They commonly nectar at a variety of flowers including Bidens, Eupatorium and Stachytarpheta.

 

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