Hairstreaks

Lycaenidae, Lycaeninae.

The Lycaeninae are poorly known in Latin America compared to their sister group, the metalmarks. Currently, about 1,000 species have been discovered. When all are described, it is estimated that their number will exceed the Riodininae.

In the Neotropics, well over 90 percent of this subfamily of small butterflies (WS 15-40 mm) is comprised of one tribe, the Eumaeini (Eliot 1973). These are the hairstreaks, typically with short hairlike appendages extending from a lobe at the rear of the hind wing, at the base of which are conspicuous, eyelike spots. They rest with the hind wings appressed tightly over the back which they characteristically rub together, setting these "tails" in motion so that they resemble waving antennae. The action is thought to divert the attacks of predators away from the true head to these expendable wing structures. The validity of the hypothesis has been tested on the common "false head hairstreak," Arawacus pigure 10.16 LYCAENID BUTTERFLIES (LYCAENIDAE). (a) Multitailed metalmark (Helicopis ads)- (b) Metalmark (Juditha molpe), larva being attended by ants of the genus Hypoclinea. (c) Long-tailed metalmark (Chlorinea faunus). (d) Metalmark (Amarynthis menaria). (e) False head hairstreak ¬°Arawacus aetolus).

oetolus (fig- 10.16e) (Robbins 1980, 1981). On the upper sides, they are solid colored and plain, although many others display iridescent blues and green and others are vividly patterned.

The early stages of the majority of the species are unknown. The few larvae that are known are mostly sluglike with a small retracted head and are somewhat flattened, some very much so (Callaghan 1982). Most feed on a variety of dicotyledoneous plants, often the flowers, and fruit, but a few (e.g., ChUaria) may have specialized food preferences among other plants, such as orchids. Some are associated with ants symbiotically and have a thickened, tough cuticle, presumably to protect them from attack when entering ant nests to feed on their larvae or other guests, such as coccids. These also exude substances from special integumentary glands to attract ants for protection or to entice them to carry them to their nest. Some are agricultural pests, such as the pineapple hairstreak (Tmolus basilides) whose larvae eat the flowers and bore into the developing fruit of pineapple (Harris 1927), but hairstreaks are largely benign insects.

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