Banderas Bay Butterflies

Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron) and
Ruddy Daggerwing (Marpesia petreus)
Both these daggerwings are found throughout much of Mexico but are generally missing
in the dry interior. They get their common name from their long dagger-like tail. Both
species are large and use members of the Ficus (rubber) family as host plants on which to
lay their single eggs. The Ruddy caterpillars are white to cream to reddish with triangle
shaped patterning in black and red, and a row of four black spines along their back, and
two long, antennae like projections. I have not been able to find an image of the
Many-banded Daggerwing caterpillar but apparently it is spiny, yellow/orange (greenish
on the sides), with red, transverse marks and two black longitudinal streaks on the back.
Daggerwings have a similar shape as swallowtails, but swallowtails have four legs and
daggerwings and other members of the huge brushfoot (Nymphalidae) family of
butterflies have six legs, the two front legs are shorter than the others, and instead of feet,
have brush-like hairs that are used to sense their surroundings through smell and taste.
Imagine being able to taste everything you touch…or perhaps not! The antennae of most
butterflies are recurved at the tip, but in the Marpesia genus, they are straight.
Most daggerwings you will find will be males, the females prefer to spend their time high
in the forest canopy.
These butterflies are known for mud-puddling, especially in wet sand, where they extract
minerals and nutrients. They have been known to congregate in the hundreds, what a
thrilling sight that must be! I found both of the stunning butterflies along the riverbank at
Mismaloya, all by themselves, not consorting with even one other of their kind.
Merry Christmas and I hope you will find some time to enjoy the recuperative powers of
nature during the holidays

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One comment

  1. A point of further interest regarding butterflies is that they are one of the surviving relatives of a newly identified species called Yawunif Kootenagi , a marine creature with two pairs of eyes and prominent grasping appendages that lived some 508 million years ago.

    The fossil was identified by an international team led by paleontologists at the University of Toranto (U of T) and the and the Royal Museum (ROM) in Toranto .

    It was found in the Marble Canyon site, part of the Canadian Burgess Shale Fossil Site. The new creature was named in tribute to the Ktumaxa people of the Kootenay area where Marble Canyon is located.

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