Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)
The Malachite Butterfly is a species of tropical butterflies from South America and a member of the brush-footed butterfly group. They are one of the most familiar butterfly species in their distribution range and are known for their unusual coloration and large size. In fact, they are one of the largest butterfly species of the world.
Description and Identification
The larvae are primarily black in color having red spotted markings in two straight lines on the back. They have horned feelers on their head and have spiny projections all over the body that have come out from each of the red markings. Like most other caterpillars, they survive by feeding on the leaves of their host plants.
The chrysalis of the malachite butterfly is vibrant green in color with small, protruding dots. They can easily camouflage inside the leaves of their host plant.
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes (minimal)
Color and Appearance: The wings are large, and when they are open, they display a combination of black with brilliant green or yellowish green on the upper (dorsal) side. When the wings are closed, they show a light brown and olive green hue on the under (ventral) side. The males and females look almost similar, except that, the color and patterns on the wings of the latter is somewhat faint.
Average wingspan: 8.5 and 10 cm (3.3 and 3.9 in)
Flight pattern: Slow, floating
Green in color and are laid singly on the new leaves of the host plant
|Distribution||Central and northern South America; some are also seen in Florida, USA|
|Habitat||Orchards of mango, citrus, avocado, and other semideciduous or subtropical evergreen forests|
|Host plants||Various species of the plant family Acanthaceae, including cafetin (Blechum brownei) and ruellia (Ruellia coccinea)|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar, rotting fruits, the carcass of animals, and bat dung|
Did You Know?
- The malachite butterflies are often confused with the dido longwing for obvious reasons; however, their difference lies in the shape of their wings.
- Probably owing to its large size, the butterfly is a voracious eater, and can feed throughout the day.
- Records say that the arthropod can fly to flowers at the height of up to 38 feet in the canopy.
- The malachite butterfly gets its name from the mineral malachite that bears the same shade of green.