Orion Cecropian
Orion Cecropian Historis odius

Orion Cecropian
Historis odious

Photo by Tino Sánchez

This captivating, large butterfly has a wingspan of 11 cm (4 in.) and calls attention with its bright orange upperparts when flying. However, at rest, they fold their wings up, revealing their leaf-like brown underside, even showing a vertical line reminiscent of the vein of a leaf, providing excellent camouflage.

They are very closely associated with cecropia trees—from laying their eggs on its leaves to perching high on its branches, all life stages of this species associates with cecropia trees. From the treetops, it flies down to the ground to feed on fermenting forest fruits, earning this species its nickname, the “Stinky Leafwing.” Males are attracted to rocky overhangs, riverbanks and muddy wallows to pick up dissolved minerals in the water. Keep an eye out for this common butterfly at eye level from the Observation Deck of the Canopy Tower, and at the fruit feeders at the Canopy Lodge and Canopy Camp.

Strange defenses: The larval caterpillars produce frass-chains, which they dangle off the edges of cecropia leaves where they are resting to avoid being eaten by the resident Azteca ants.