Ecology, natural history and behaviour of Ithomiine butterflies and their mimics in Ecuador (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Ithomiinae).


  • G. W. Beccaloni


Amazon, Apocynaceae, Arctiidae, Argentina, Batesian mimicry, Boraginaceae, Brazil, Charaxinae, chemical defences, Compositae, Costa Rica, Ctenuchinae, damselflies, Dioptidae, Dircennini, Dismorphiinae, Ennominae, Geometridae, Hedylidae, Heliconiinae, Hesperiidae, Ithomiinae, Jamaica, Lycaenidae, Mechanitini, Mexico, mimicry complexes, moths, Müllerian mimicry, Neotropical, Notodontidae, Nymphalidae, Odonata, Papilionidae, Papilioninae, Pericopinae, Peru, Pieridae, Pierinae, polymorphism, Polythoridae, Pyralidae, Pyrginae, Riodininae, Solanaceae, South America, Spilomelinae, Tithoreini, ultraviolet patterns, unpalatability, Venezuela, Zygoptera


The ithomiine butterfly species (Nymphalidae: Ithomiinae) which occur at Jatun Sacha Biological Station, Napo Province, Ecuador were found to participate in eight discrete mimicry complexes. These complexes involve a total of 124 insect species: 55 ithomiine species, 34 species which belong to other butterfly families or subfamilies, 34 moth species, and 1 species of damselfly. All species are illustrated and identified, and aspects of their behaviour are discussed. Literature on the chemical defences of the species is reviewed and a study of their ultraviolet reflectance patterns is presented. Data from a mark-release-recapture study show that the majority of individuals in the mimicry complexes studied were ithomiines. Hypotheses to explain polymorphism in Batesian and Müllerian mimics are discussed, in view of the finding that seven species of ithomiines, five other butterfly species, and the single damselfly species were polymorphic at Jatun Sacha.