Happy Friday, Butterfly Lovers!!! We hope you’re having a great Friday. This week we decided to introduce you to a genus of butterflies that is a South American Favorite. The genus name is Diaethria, but they are better known as “88” butterflies. They are called “88”s because of the very obvious double 8 markings on the underside of their hind wings, although in some species the second 8 looks more like a 9. These number markings are a very interesting diagnostic characteristic that makes the genus Diaethria one of the most easily recognizable in South America. Most first-time observers are fascinated to see an actual number on a butterfly, because it’s so unexpected. Be sure to check out the pictures that we posted with today’s post.
The Genus Diaethria is a small group of butterflies with less than 15 species total. They are all very common in their respective ranges, and you will find “88”s from Mexico to Paraguay. They are also fairly small in size with wingspans in the 1 to 1 ½-Inch range. There are a few other small groups of related butterflies that resemble “88”s, but they are not very easily confused with each other. The typical “88” butterfly has a black upper side, usually with a slightly iridescent green to greenish-blue diagonal forewing band of varying thickness and length. The hind wing top surface is also black with usually a stripe following the outer border that is the same color as the forewing band. The underside forewing is usually red with a white apex that may or may not have one or two thin black stripes. The undersides of the hind wings are usually white of cream in color, and have the “88” markings usually surrounded by thin black lines with a little more red on the top edge. In its own small way, it is a bold and colorful butterfly.
“88”s are equally at home in the rainforest, or in well maintained landscaped areas adjacent to the rainforest. The only places we have not seen them is in open fields or meadows. “88”s love the sunshine. You will often see them sunning themselves with their wings open. They also love to drink from puddles and river banks. They make very good subjects for photographers, because they often remain at rest for relatively long periods of time. And they don’t scare too easily, so you can get pretty close with your camera. Occasionally if you remain motionless, they will circle you and even land on you if you are lucky! When they are in the rainforest, you will often see them flying across the path ahead of you. When they fly in the very contrasty dappled light, the forewing bands are highly reflective, giving you the ability to see them flying from quite a good distance away. But usually, you’ll see the iridescent reflection as a sparkle of light, and not really see the butterfly till you get closer. As far as identifications are concerned, unless you’re really familiar with the Genus Diaethria, it’s difficult to make identifications in the field. In fact, it’s very difficult to tell some species apart if you only look at the upper side or underside by itself. Usually, you need to have a good look at both surfaces, and in most cases the underside is more diagnostic. That’s why in most museum collections, you’ll find the Diaethria specimens pinned upside down!
Due to the 88’s smaller size, you don’t often see them individually framed. But they are wonderful additions in framed groups of specimens. In our Wonders Of Nature department, we have many “88”s in our collage frames. If you have a blank wall in your house that is too small for a traditional framed picture, we have some smaller collage frames that would be just perfect for you. They’re colorful and unique, and they’re sure to be admired by everyone who sees them. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, we hope you’ll stop in and see them. 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.