Location: La Paz, Entre Ríos Province, Argentina
November 3, 2010 8:54 am
We found these last weekend in Entre Ríos Province, Argentina. What are they doing?
Signature: Gabriel and Andrés
Dear Gabriel and Andrés,
Often caterpillars, especially tropical caterpillars, form aggregations, most probably because there is safety in numbers. We have gotten several letters in the past from South America with similar images including one from Peru this summer that was identified as Morpho telemachus, and another from Brazil last year that was identified by Keith Wolfe as Morpho telemachus. Your caterpillars look very similar but slightly more furry. We will try to contact Keith Wolfe to see if he can verify the identity of this interesting aggregation.
Keith Wolfe provides and identification
November 5, 2010
These are the resting, gregarious — more about living, not love — caterpillars of Morpho epistrophus (previously known as M. catenaria/catenarius), seemingly on their customary hostplant of “coronilla”, Scutia buxifolia (Rhamnaceae). They feed nocturnally, and have probably been slowly growing since the eggs were laid in January or February. Here is the same species from nearby Santa Catarina, Brazil . . .
. . . and a very informative historical account of interest to Gabriel and Andrés:
WOW that powder blue Morpho epistrophus is sure a beautiful butterfly.