Eryphanis sp. (mentioned as genus rather than species, as there seems to be a current taxonomical mess, often mentioned under the incorrect species name “polyxena” which is in fact either the species lycomedon or automedon) is a medium to large butterfly species, related to Caligo and Morpho (Brassolini). Overal a very unique species to breed and rear. The adults are iridescent – they reflect a rather dark tint of purple, which meight change to dark blue from some angles. The larvae are rather bizarre in shape and behaviour.
Eryphanis male, showing the scent scales on the hindwings and dark purple iridescence
- Difficulty rating: 6/10 (Easy for a butterfly but needs more effort than moths)
- Host plants: Poaceae grasses, bamboo (Fargesia, Bambusa) Reeds such as Phragmites sp., Papyrus grasses (Cyperus).
- Natural range: Central and South America
- Polyphagous: Yes but probably only on Poaceae
- Generations: Multivoltine (continuous breeding)
- Family: Nymphalidae (brush footed butterflies)
- Pupation: Chrysalis
- Prefered climate: Tropical – hot and humid
- Special notes: The larvae look like dragons, what else do you need! They also have a cervical gland that secretes palmitic acid, a substance that probably repels ants
Eryphanis female: much less iridescence, rather blue than purple, and slightly larger.
The larvae, wonderfully camouflaged, are quite long and slender. Their anal prolegs have been modified into two elongated “tails”. Their head capsules have horns and larvae move in a quite odd way, like they are shaking in the wind! The larvae feed on various grasses in the Poaceae family. Including bamboo (Fargesia), reed (Phragmites) and papyrusgrass (Cyperus).
Young Eryphanis larva, not nearly fully grown, final instars range over 11cm+
The most important thing with rearing this species is humidity. Larvae prefer warmth but also perform well on room temperature. Reed, bamboo or papyrusgrass are recommended, especially Bamboo which is the native hostplant. Larvae develop rather slowly and will take a couple of months to develop prior to pupation.
The beautifully detailed underside of Eryphanis, with camouflage pattern.
The adults forage on the forest floors and mainly seek out fermented fruits and substances rich in minerals to drink from. The pupae are well camouflaged and blend well with their environment.
Fully grown larva
Beautiful iridescent male
Freshly emerged and resting on the pupal case
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