Happy Friday bug fans! It’s time for another edition of Friday Flyers. This week we’re bringing you another of our favorites. If it seems like we have a lot of favorites, that’s because we do!!! But taken in perspective, with as many as 200,000 species of butterflies and moths, you can have hundreds of favorites and still not even put a dent in the total number. Today’s favorites are the Prepona butterflies of Central and South America. The genus Prepona has undergone lots of revisions in the last 20 years, with the genus being divided causing some groups to be renamed. But despite these new grouping systems, most of them look pretty similar to each other. They are unmistakable and there are no corresponding counterpart species on any of the other continents.
Prepona butterflies are medium sized butterflies with wingspans in the 3 to 4 inch range. All of the species in the genus are essentially black with a blue to greenish-blue band running vertically down the center of the wings. This blue band is iridescent and in some species it tends to reflect in the violet-blue range. The iridescence makes a Prepona visible from quite a distance away. But the trick is to see them at all! Preponas are relatively elusive, usually deep forest butterflies. And they are very fast flyers. In the contrasty dappled light of the rainforest, despite their size they are hard to see and harder to follow. You can really only see them when the sunlight is reflecting off of the blue band. And they are almost invisible when they land on a tree trunk, because their undersides are dull and cryptically camouflaged. This camouflage coupled with their fast flight makes them impossible to catch with a butterfly net. And since they are not nectar-feeders which means they don’t visit flowers, the only way to collect them is with bait such as rotting fruit. That’s one reason that we like Preponas so much. It takes a lot of effort to catch one.
Since most of the Prepona species look similar on the upperside of their wings, it’s understandable how the related species can be easily confused. Luckily, even though the undersides are drab and cryptic, most of the identifications can be made from these cryptic markings. We have pictured several species that illustrate this very well.
The blue banded Preponas are all relatively common and therefore relatively inexpensive. But there are a few Prepona species that have bright red markings in addition to the blue bands. These butterflies are truly beautiful!!! They are also relatively rare, and seldom found in collections. Serious collectors often spend hundreds of dollars for male specimens and over one thousand dollars for the females!!! But fortunately there are only a few of the blue/red Preponas. So with patience and a modest to moderate budget, it is possible to acquire a complete collection of all of the Prepona species in the genus.
We have several of the blue banded Prepona butterflies in our Wonders Of Nature department. They are beautifully framed and matted as always, with prices starting at $75 depending on the species. Any of them would make a wonderful addition to your growing collection. We’re sure they will quickly become one of your favorites too.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Friday Flyers. We love sharing our interest in butterflies and insects with you. Please enjoy the photos we have posted with this week’s edition, and be sure to see all the previous pictures in our Friday Flyers album. Remember to “like” our Wonders Of Nature page, and be sure to pass it along to all your Facebook Friends. We hope you’ll visit our Wonders Of Nature department soon, and we look forward to seeing you.