Zaretys itys itys
Photo by Jerry and Linda Harrison
This butterfly belongs to the largest family of butterflies, the Nymphalidae. All members of this family have six legs like all insects, however, they walk only on four legs, given that their front legs are small and retracted against the body. The family Nymphalidae has 12 described subfamilies. The Itys Leafwing belongs to the subfamily Charaxinae, a group also known as Leaf Butterflies. When perched with their wings closed, all species in this group resemble either dead leaves, a piece of wood, or a leaf petiole. Interestingly, while all species camouflage really well with their wings closed, most have very colorful wing uppersides that can be seen when open, varying from reddish-orange to blue-green bands. Apparently, this is an anti-predator strategy, so if they are camouflaged with their wings closed and a predator gets too close, they can rapidly open their wings and distract the predator with their brilliant colors.
Leaf Butterflies have a short and robust proboscis that they use to feed on rotten fruits and excrement from other animals. Adults spend most of their time in the forest canopy but come down to feed from time to time. Remarkably, some males are also attracted to human sweat! This species can be found from Mexico to the Guyanas, Paraguay, Suriname, and Brazil.
Hanson, P. E., & Nishida, K. 2016. Insects and Other Arthropods of Tropical America. Cornell University Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctvrf8c3f