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Belize’s “Crackling” Butterfly

17 January 2012 No Comment

Today’s Belize Photo of the Day is the Gray Cracker Butterfly which is scientifically known as Hamadryas februa. The Gray Cracker Butterfly is a butterfly of the Neotropic Eco Zone, South America, with its circulation area extending from Mexico, Colombia, the Caribbean Islands, to Brazil. It is one of the most conspicuous species of butterfly found at The Lodge at Chaa Creek.

The Gray Cracker Butterfly

The Hamadryas februa is found in deciduous rainforest and jungle habitats, near orchards and lightly vegetated forest clearings. They can often be seen basking on tree trunks, in a head-downward position with its wings flattened against the bark. They will bask in this position for long periods to await potential mates. They commonly settle at a height of about 2 metres.

The male Gray Cracker has the ability to produce a clearly audible sound which is similar to the crackling of bacon in a frying pan. The sound is produced as the butterflies take off, and is made by twanging a pair of spiny rods at the tip of the abdomen against bristles on the valvae (the male’s anal claspers).

The purpose of the sound is not fully understood as it may deter competing males from occupying the same territory, and may also act as a trigger to initiate the first response from a female during courtship.

Photo taken by Naturalist Guide: Allan Chan

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