Metallic Chrysalis from Costa Rica: Cream Spotted Clearwing Butterfly

Silver Metallic chrysalis
Location: Costa Rica
December 19, 2010 9:24 pm
Hey bugman, I’m trying to get an id on this chrysalis. If I had thought about it, I would have just gotten the name from the card sitting on the display. But six months removed from the time I took the picture, I can’t seem to find any info about it. The picture was taken in the butterfly garden at La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica. From their webpage, I know the chrysalis came from one of the species listed here – Any idea which it is? Thanks
Signature: Patrick

Cream Spotted Clearwing Butterfly Chrysalis

Dear Patrick,
It would seem that you are in possession of the same information that we would need to search for the identity of your Chrysalis.  If we wanted to identify the chrysalis of a butterfly that we knew was represented on a list of possibilities, our course of action would be to search for images of the chrysalis of each of the 39 species pictured on the Waterfall Gardens website by utilizing a search engine.  We would definitely eliminate the Swallowtails, Sulphurs and Whites from the first two rows as this is a Brush-Footed Butterfly or Nymphalid Chrysalis.  We noticed that the website you provided has individual pop up windows on the species that they picture, but alas, those do not have images of the entire life cycle.  We would hope that after searching the remaining 31 possibilities, eliminating known quantities like the Monarch, we might be able to provide an answer.  Doing this type of painstaking research often takes a great deal of time.  Working our way through the list, we are content that this is the Chrysalis of the Orange Spotted Tiger Clearwing Butterfly,
Mechanitis polymnia, the 37th species from the top, based on a photo on the Visuals Unlimited website and one on the PhotoBank website.  It is also pictured on the Obsession with Butterflies website.  The chrysalis of the closely related Mechanitis polymnia looks quite similar and it is pictured on the Butterfly of San Martín Peru website.

Thanks, I’m satisfied.

Correction Courtesy of Keith Wolfe
December 22, 2010
Daniel, I’m sorry to be a grinch, since you obviously spent a fair amount of time trying to find an ID, but this chrysalis isn’t an Orange-spotted Tiger Clearwing (Mechanitis polymnia)-in-waiting, instead almost certainly being that of a Cream-spotted Clearwing (Tithorea tarricina)*, which is another common Costa Rican ithomiid featured in local butterfly exhibits.  The pupae shown in your second and third links appear to be correctly labeled as Orange-spotteds, however, the trio that pop up at the Obsession site are actually Cream-spotteds — note differences in the two species’ shape, patterning, and color.  (As I mentioned before, wrong identifications of caterpillars and chrysalises abound on the Web, thus the importance of keeping the Bugman “honest”.)  And here’s what Patrick’s Cream-spotted looked like several days earlier:
Best wishes,

Thanks so much for the correction Keith.  It is much appreciated.  It is interesting that the Cream Spotted Clearwing is not even represented on the Waterfall Gardens website.  Upon receiving your correction, we found an image on FlickR of the chrysalides of the Cream Spotted Clearwing to link to for reference.

Update from Keith Wolfe
Daniel, I just checked and Tithorea tarricina (Cream-spotted Clearwing) is listed by La Paz — reading left to right, 25 pix down.

Thanks Keith,
Our eyes looked right past it.

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