Variable cracker butterfly

Variable cracker butterfly

Hamadryas feronia

South America, Guyana, Roraima


Butterflies largely depend on their sense of smell, taste and vision but some species also use sound. The male variable cracker butterflies produce a loud sound like the crackling of bacon in a frying pan when another butterfly of the same species flies past. They appear to make the noises by buckling stiff bits of their wings. These noises may help attract mates, fight off other males or scare away predators, nobody is completely sure yet.

 Where can you see them? They live in rainforests and woodlands from Texas in North America all the way down to Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. They like secondary (disturbed) forest and the edges of woodlands. They are tricky to spot though, as their mottled wings are brilliantly camouflaged on the tree trunks on which they perch. Most of this perching is done 10 metres or more above the ground. They look out from on high for passing mates and rivals.

What do they eat? Their caterpillars feed on host plants of tropical vines in the family Euphorbiaceae (such as Dalechampia spp.). The butterflies feed on rotting fruit, tree sap and animal dung.

Are they endangered? Hamadryas feronia is a common and widespread species. It copes well in disturbed forest so is likely to be less affected by habitat changes than more specialist species and those that rely on primary (undisturbed) forest.