Boldly Patterned Butterflies: Florida Purplewing
Description 1 5/8-2" (41-51 mm). FW tip concavely indented at tip. Dark brown above, inner 2/3 heavily overlaid with iridescent purple. FW tips have 7 white spots and bars. Mottled dark and dull brown below. HW has eyespots above and below.
Life Cycle Unknown.
Flight Several broods; any month.
Habitat Dense coastal hardwood hammocks.
Range Central America and Antilles north to S. Florida.
Discussion Although many purplewings fly farther south, few reach North America. The Florida Purplewing may be fairly common in southern Florida. The related Dingy Purplewing (E. monima) infrequently wanders to Florida and southern Texas; it feeds on prickly ash (Zanthoxylum) in Mexico. It is smaller, has fewer white spots in the more rounded fore wing tip, and its purple shines with less brilliance. Purplewings haunt the undeveloped Florida hardwood hammocks. Their undersides are camouflaged against the tree bark on which they perch. The purple iridescence shows only in direct sunshine; they look brown in the shade. Sometimes purplewings take to the ground to drink from fruit or mud, or wander out to the edges of hammocks or along roadsides.