Happy Friday, Butterfly Buddies!!! We hope you’re having a great Friday. This week we had another glimpse of spring, and hopefully as April draws to an end we’ll finally see some warmer temperatures. Whenever we get depressed about the colder than normal weather, we always look at tropical butterflies, because they are certain to bring us warm tropical thoughts. So with this in mind, today’s Friday Flyers will introduce you to a Western Hemisphere tropical favorite---Hamadryas butterflies.
Hamadryas butterflies belong to the Nymphalid family. Various species are distributed from Mexico to Argentina, and some of the species can be found in almost every South and Central American country. Generally Hamadryas butterflies are in the small to medium size range with typical wingspans between 2 and 3 inches. They have very classic Nymphalid wing shapes, meaning rounded hind wings and triangular forewings that are rounded at the apex, generally not too angular and no tails. The genus Hamadryas is a small group of about 20 species, but within the 20 species is a wide range of variation. Today’s Friday Flyers includes some photos of species that we observed in Ecuador, and represents a good cross-section of the group.
The first Hamadryas we ever saw was a bluish-grey species called Hamadryas feronia.
We were in a courtyard area with mowed grass and a few trees, situated between a group of farmhouse buildings. Hamadryas butterflies are fast, darting flyers when they want to be. But most often you will see them circling their favorite tree trunks in sunny areas. They love to bask in the sun, and they will rest for long periods of time on their favorite perch. Hamadryas feronia is very well camouflaged with a very complicated cryptic pattern of muted blacks, bluish-greys, and whites. They rest with their wings horizontal and flat, usually about three-quarters spread, and ALWAYS upside down. You’ll usually see them between 6 and 20 feet high, upside down on a tree trunk…just looking at you!!! It’s like they just want to see what’s happening below them. Feronia loves open areas in the rainforest, and is equally at home in landscaped areas…but there MUST be some trees around for them to land on.
Our second sighting of a Hamadryas species was at a rainforest lodge, feeding on some rotting fruit. This species was Hamadryas amphinome, and we were immediately impressed by its more vivid combination of colors. Amphinome is still cryptically patterned, but the dorsal (top) is much more blue than feronia. And the ventral (bottom) hind wings are bright orange. Now here was an interesting butterfly!!! We observed and photographed him for over 20 minutes, just feeding and resting, and apparently not concerned with our proximity. We soon learned that amphinome is slightly more cautious than feronia, and prefers slightly wooded areas in the rainforest. You can coax amphinome out with some fruit, but otherwise you will only see amphinome in its characteristic preferred perch…upside down on a tree trunk!
Our third sighting of a Hamadryas species was on a tree stump on the edge of the rainforest. We had placed some rotting meat on the stump with the hope of attracting
something to photograph. And there it was, Hamadryas laodamia. It was stunningly beautiful. As we approached, it flew up and landed about 10 feet high in an overlooking tree…upside down of course. It just sat there looking at us. In the bright sun, we could see that it was jet black with iridescent blue spots, and a blue “glow” that seemed to wash over its entire wings. When we backed away, it flew back down to feed. This happened again and again, until we finally decided to move on down the trail. It was an unforgettable sighting. Laodamia is much more reclusive than its cousins feronia and amphinome. Laodamia prefers more dense areas of the rainforest and usually is only seen if you use bait. But the effort is worth it!!!
So that’s our Hamadryas story. Hamadryas butterflies are relatively common and widespread. This makes them relatively inexpensive to acquire. And with the limited number of species in the genus, it is fairly easy for a collector to complete the group. We have several Hamadryas butterflies in our Wonders Of Nature department in our collage frames. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in and check them out. We think you’ll like them.
And don’t forget to visit the Friday Flyers archive on our website. You can now refer to all of the past editions complete with all the photos, in a stable, permanent, non-shifting, non-facebook format. We hope you’ll visit our website and check it out at:
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.