Parasitized Brush-footed Butterfly Chrysalis

October 24th, 2011 - 8:17 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

17mm long | July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Metamorphosis for this butterfly appears to have been interrupted by a parasite, a small wasp perhaps. You can see the hole where the parasite chewed its way out. Oddly, there’s a similar hole on the other side. Maybe it abandoned this other exit since it looks incomplete. Or maybe there were actually multiple parasites.

Another exit hole?

I know this is the chrysalis of a brush-footed butterfly in the family Nymphalidae because other butterfly families use a a small silken thread around the thorax to help secure it. Here’s an example from an earlier post.

Swallowtail Chrysalis

Butterfly chrysalises can be quite intricate and this one has some interesting flourishes.

Dorsal view

Reference:

Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates:
A Guide to North American Species

by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney

Moss Caterpillar

August 15th, 2011 - 7:35 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

30mm body | July 3, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I suspect this caterpillar is closely related to similar looking nymphalid butterfly caterpillars in the genus Adelpha. Some are generally referred to as moss caterpillars because the various body projections give the appearance of moss. It may not be obvious from these photos, but check out this photo from Flickr user artour_a.

Side view

Closeup of head

I’ve encountered a similar caterpillar before in a different part of Brazil, although that one was probably an earlier instar and was shades of brown.

Reference:

100 Caterpillars
by Jeffrey C. Miller, Daniel H. Janzen and Winifred Hallwachs

Chrysalis Surprise

July 14th, 2011 - 11:29 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

10mm | July 4, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I collected this little chrysalis while I was in the field the day before I took this photo. I didn’t think I’d be able to get a good photo at the time, and I was curious to see what might emerge. Strangely, looking at this with my own eye, it appears opaque with a silvery and gold surface. With the camera and flash, it appears as above, somewhat transparent and showing what looks like a wing inside. I figured it would only be a short time to see the butterfly that might emerge. Well, I was half right.

About a week later, I found this in the rearing container.

10mm long

Side view

With those enlarged hind femora this must be something in the superfamily Chalcidoidea, perhaps in the family Chalcididae. The natural history fits, since Chalcidids are parasites of Lepidoptera and Diptera pupae.

Here’s what’s left of the chrysalis.

Chrysalis showing where parasitoid emerged

Possible Hecale Longwings

February 24th, 2011 - 7:23 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

January 17, 2011

Cahuita NP, Limon Province, Costa Rica

These butterflies were attracted to these white flowers. These might be Heliconius hecale zuleika, but I suspect there are probably lots of species that are difficult to tell apart.

Identification Challenge #4 Reveal

November 18th, 2010 - 5:19 PM | Filed under Identification Challenges | 1 Comment

As Ted C. MacRae correctly guessed, the chrysalis in the latest identification challenge yielded a specimen of Papilio glaucus, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

April 25, 2010 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

The blue on the upperside of the hindwings indicates this is a female. Here’s the underside of the wings:

Underside of wings

If I’d had some daylight, I’d have tried to get something other than a black background. I saw she had emerged after arriving home one evening though, so I took these shots in my home office before releasing her.

Being a fresh specimen, I thought I’d try for some closeups of the wing scales.

Colorful Butterfly

October 20th, 2010 - 8:08 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 2 Comments

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I usually don’t have the patience to stalk butterflies. The colors on this one were just so vibrant that I spent about 20 minutes chasing after it.

Even the undersides of the wings, while definitely muted, are attractive (to me anyway).

Wings closed showing underside

Glasswing Butterfly

October 20th, 2010 - 7:45 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Glasswing butterflies lack scales on parts of their wings, leaving those parts transparent.

Though similar looking, this is not the species (Greta oto) commonly found in many of the butterfly houses I’ve visited. That one’s range doesn’t extend into South America. This is probably a closely related species. I was surprised there are so many that look very much alike. Check out this Florida Museum of Natural History page on the tribe Godyridini to get an idea.