Rare Godart’s Agrias butterfly sighted at REGUA

Godart’s Agrias <em>Agrias claudina</em>, Guapiaçu, September 2011 (© Robert Locke)
Godart’s Agrias Agrias claudina, Guapiaçu, September 2011 (© Robert Locke)

The genus Agrias Doubleday, 1844 (Nymphalidae: Charaxinae) is commonly believed to be one of the gems of Neotropical butterflies. They are well known for their intense colours but sadly an object for collections. These Charaxine butterflies are powerful flyers and mostly spend their time on the forest canopies living on a diet of primarily fruit. An example in Europe of this family is the “Rajah” or Charaxes jasius (Linnaeus, 1767).

Only one species occurs in south and south-east Brazil, that being the Agrias claudina (Godart, 1824), with two subspecies, one A. c. anetta (Gray, 1832) from the Atlantic Forest and the other A. c. godmani (Fruhstorfer, 1895) found in the Cerrado of central Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro the former species was frequently seen in Tijuca forest and around Jacarepagua but with forest loss and more urban expansion the last state record was from Guapimirim, where it was collected by Henry Pearson in the 1970s.

We were most excited to learn of two recent photographic records of Agrias claudina which were taken almost simultaneously, the first by Richard Raby, taken at his Marica lodge of a male in January this year and the other at REGUA some 80 kilometres away by Robert Locke last September (see picture right), just by his courtyard in Guapiaçu, feeding on Pitanga fruits (Eugenia sp.). The males have sharpened folded forewings and totally atrophied front legs that characterize their preference for flight rather than a more sedentary existence.

Further information on Godart’s Agrias Agrias claudina: