Happy Friday, Mariposa Muchachos!!! We hope you’re having a great Friday. Pardon our Spanish, but it’s totally appropriate because today’s featured butterflies are from South and Central America. Every week we try to skip around from one continent to another so that we can introduce you to the largest possible variety of butterflies and insects. Today we have chosen to feature the Marpesia butterflies. Marpesia butterflies are widely distributed from Mexico to Argentina. The name Marpesia comes from Greek and Roman mythology and was the name of the queen of the Amazon women, which is perfectly fitting because many of the Marpesia species are found in the Amazon rainforests. We have photographed 8 Marpesia specimens for today’s Friday Flyers, and we hope you’ll find them interesting.
Marpesia butterflies are included in a relatively small genus comprised of about 20 species. Marpesias are members of the Nymphalid family, like many other butterflies we have previously featured. But unlike most of the other Nymphalids in the world, Marpesias have long tails that make them look more like Swallowtail butterflies. As a group, they are small to medium in size with wingspans in the 2 to 2 ½ inch range, but they impress you as being larger because of their tails. Most Marpesia butterflies are colored in a variety of earth-tone colors including black, white, orange, and brown. But a few species are more colorful with one of today’s photographed specimens, Marpesia furcula violetta, having large forewing patches of intense “ultraviolet” purple!!! When the sunlight reflects off of its wings, it glows as if the purple is shining from within its wings!
Marpesia butterflies are sun-loving butterflies. They love to bask in the bright sun, especially around mud puddles. When they find a good puddle, they will circle it over and over again in figure-8 flight patterns that will make you dizzy. They are very quick and agile and they always stay within a 12 inch height off of the ground. Trying to catch a Marpesia is a challenge because they usually can evade your net. As often as not, all you’ll get is a wet net smeared with mud from the puddle. But when they land, you’ll have a great opportunity to photograph them, because they will drink for minutes at a time if you don’t disturb them. Marpesias will also come to bait like rotting fruit. As much as they like the sun, they never stray far from the protection of the forest. So you will typically find them in bright sunlit patches on the ground where shafts of sunlight pierce the rainforest canopy, or along the roadside, but you will never seem in an open field or meadow.
One other interesting fact about Marpesia butterflies is that the males seem to be much more abundant than the females. Actually, they exist in a close ratio, but the females are more reclusive. We have had many opportunities to observe Marpesia butterflies, and we’ve seen hundreds of males, but only a handful of females. This is a common trait for many butterflies, in that the females tend to be focused on laying their eggs, while the males are feeding in the open or protecting their territorial claims.
Marpesia butterflies are a wonderful group of butterflies to collect. They are varied in color and interesting in shape. There are a relatively small number of species, so it is possible to acquire a complete set. And they are common and widespread, so it won’t cost you too much to complete the group. We always have some Marpesias on display in our Wonders Of Nature department, usually in our collage frames. They’re great as part of an assortment, because they blend well with the other species in the frame. If you’re thinking about a modest addition to your collection, a Marpesia would be a great choice for you. See you on the trail!
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 and permanent 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.