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Vibilia Longwing (Euides aff.
vibilia), Family Heliconidae
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G. Marcot
Explanation: I encountered this beautiful butterfly in two places in Mindo, Ecuador, on the mid-elevation Pacific slope of the Andes Mountains: in an enclosed butterfly conservation and breeding facility called, appropriately enough, the "Butterfly Farm;" and also flying free in an open-air facility called Jardin de Orquideas, the Orchid Garden.
But this delicate flyer has me stumped for a few reasons.
In the Butterfly Farm, a signpost identified it as Euides vivilia, apparently a misspelling of Euides vibilia. Most sources do not list a common name for the species, but occasionally you may see it referred to as the "vibilia longwing."
Most sources show this species to be remarkably variable in pattern and coloration, with striking orange dominating its wing surface and little to no white spots on the wing margins. But the specimens I encountered in Ecuador were lightly tinged with orange if at all, as these photos show. In fact, I first thought I was photographing a glasswing, as the wing panes were nearly transparent. Apparently, all photos here are of males, which are not as orange as females.
At least one source suggests that this is a superspecies group called vibilia, within which are a number of separate species. Perhaps the ones I photographed here are yet to be identified within this superspecies group ... or perhaps they tend to vary so much in appearance because they are indeed on the edge of the overall range of the superspecies group, and on the periphery of distributions is where you sometimes see character divergence or new body forms emerging.
And another puzzler is in the left pane of this week's main photos, up top on this page. It is likely a male, but the chrysalis to which it is clinging is still intact. Either it has recently emerged and is just using another butterfly's chrysalis as a perch point, or, as one source suggests, the male has a habit of sitting on a female's pupae a day before emerging as a way to ensure mating; in fact, the male is so anxious that he will mate with the female even when the female has not completely emerged!
there are mysteries and stories yet to be solved and told in the life of this
striking spark of tropical life.
Next week's picture: Signs of the Trees
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