Sarota Jewelmark from Ecuador

Unusual Metalmark Butterfly from Ecuador
Location:  Ecuador
January 24, 2013
Hi Daniel. This second offering is of one of the appropriately named Sarota Jewelmarks, a group of 18 or so flashy little metalmarks (Riodinidae: Riodininae: Helicopini) from Central and South America. In addition to diminutive size, they all share characteristically dark brown or grey upper sides and carry all their colors on the underside. This individual is a Lasciva Sarota (Sarota lasciva) and it is apparently more rare and/or elusive than most. They are fast and erratic flyers and the males tend to be quite pugnacious in defence of their territory. Since they live in the tropical lowlands, in the upper Amazon basin in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, the improbably ‘furry’ little legs can’t be for warmth. I read somewhere that similar hairiness in some lepidopterans aids in the distribution of sexual pheromones, so perhaps that is it. For reference, this one was about the size of my pinky fingernail. Thanks for the site and keep up the great work. Regards. Karl

Sarota Jewelmark

Thanks so much Karl,
Butterflies of America has photos of mounted
Sarota lasciva that show the “dark brown or grey upper sides” and Neotropical Butterflies has an image that looks very similar to your photo.  Butterflies of Amazonia has a beautiful photo of a mating pair of another species in the genus and much information, including:  “The Sarota Jewelmarks are possibly the cutest butterflies in the world. They have a very rapid and erratic flight. When seen buzzing about in the early morning they can easily be mistaken for small flies. Eventually they settle however and reveal themselves as creatures of exquisite beauty, with bright orange undersides streaked with metallic silver; and cute little furry legs !  The genus Sarota was reviewed in 1998 by Jason Hall, who recognises a total of 20 species, found variously from Mexico to Bolivia, with the highest concentration in Ecuador. It has been estimated that certain locations along the base of the eastern Andes each hold up to 15 species. Most of them are extremely rare and elusive – so much so that only that even the most experienced observers rarely manage to see more than half a dozen species in a lifetime.”  

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