The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador.

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador are definitely one of the easy animals we find during our experience in the Amazon Rainforest.

The Butterflies in the Amazon Rainforest are active all year round, all different species living in different niches and habitats throughout the forest.

They go under metamorphosis: starting from a resting egg, usually laid next to their host plant; later hutch into a larva or into an eating machine that keeps stretching; later internal changes go wild at the protein level to finally emerge as a new adult butterfly.

Where to find butterflies in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador?

We can find them from early in the morning: the Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest are active and ready to go!

We will locate them inside the forest whether resting on a leaf or taking gentle samplings of bird poop or sipping into ripe fruits -the rotten ones are the best!- fallen from the canopy as a leftover from canopy wildlife.

We will find them everywhere in the forest.

The coloration of the Butterflies in the Amazon Rainforest is an important survival feature, the position of the scales in the wings can be found in all the color combinations possible, a remarkable adaptation to establish in all the forest niches.

Watch the Video Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador 

The clouds of Butterflies are often seen on the canoe rides along the Shiripuno River, another colorful experience, all of them end up coming to the Amazonian River sandbars and scouting for mineral accumulations left behind by other wildlife such as capybaras, birds, or reptiles.

We can see them from the canoe when feeding along the sandbars of the Shiripuno River, sometimes in large and colorful groups flying over the river.

The most famous Butterfly of the Amazon Rainforest is the impressively sized Blue Morphos, named after Morpheus the Greek God for the Dream. This huge butterfly it’s easy to be recognized by the huge splash of electric blue you will see in the forest.

We would like to nominate all the Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest Butterflies as “Honorary Vertebrates”.

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest Butterflies as “Honorary Vertebrates”


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The Blue Morpho Butterfly Blue Morpho Butterflies are Not Technically Blue Turns out the Blue Morpho’s wings are not actually blue at all! Of course, they certainly appear this way, but this is not the result of pigmentation. It is actually caused by the way light reflects off the microscopic scales on its wings. The scales are diamond-shaped and the color results from their specific formation and placement on the wing membranes. This is a phenomenon known as iridescence, a type of optical illusion which describes how hues change according to the angle from which they are viewed. #BlueMorpho #BlueButterfly #AmazonButterfly #ButterflyScales #SumacoÑahui #Yasuni #YasuniWilderness #ShiripunoLodge #YasuniNationalPark #YasuniWildlife #Ecuador #Crowdfunding #Conservation

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Blue Morpho Butterfly

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Common Blue Morpho Butterfly in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Shiripuno River, Ecuador

The Blue Morpho belongs to the genus Morpho, which is a huge butterfly with a flash of electric blue you will see on our boat trip, or during hikes on trails, the Blue Morpho with a wingspan of about 4 inches long.

Their wings express the Best Technology in nature to reflect light with energy efficiency.

They feed on falling rotting fruit on the ground it can be in front of you, and you won’t see it, because it eats with its wing close to melting in the background color of the floors.

The Blue Morpho caterpillars defend themselves with a defensive smell.

Amazon Owl Butterfly

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Amazon Owl Butterfly in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Shiripuno River, Ecuador

The Amazon Owl Butterflies belong to the genus Caligo, a huge brown butterfly, active at crepuscular times of the day, they are known for their huge eyespots on their hindwing, which resemble owls’ eyes.

During adulthood, it feeds on rotting fruits, and in the larvae stage, they feed on the Heliconias plant.  They are found in all the habitats of the Amazon Rainforests in Ecuador.

Rhetus Butterfly

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Rhetus butterflies in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Shiripuno River, Ecuador

Rhetus butterflies are usually found singly or in very low numbers, in the vicinity of streams or rivers.

Thirsty for Minerals! It can also be found along tracks through the primary or disturbed rainforest or cloudforest habitats.

The butterfly occurs at elevations between 0-1800m and flies throughout the year.

Haetera Piera Butterfly

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Haetera Piera Butterfly in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Shiripuno River, Ecuador

The Haetera Piera Butterfly is a glass-winged butterfly. Almost nothing is known about the caterpillar stages of this butterfly and little is known about the whole butterfly tribe this species belongs to, the Haeterini.

The butterflies fly close to the ground and are widespread across South America’s lowland forests. They have a subtle coloration over their transparent wings, which are each patterned with two eye spots.

Sulphur Butterflies Puddle Drinking

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
The Sulphur Butterflies in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Shiripuno River, Ecuador

Sulfur butterflies, known as pierids as they’re in the Pieridae family, are often seen around puddles of water and include around 70 different species throughout the Neotropics.

The butterflies aren’t just after water but important minerals like sodium.

A favorite photograph for Amazon Rainforest tourists to capture, you can sometimes see butterflies drinking from the eyes of aquatic reptiles like turtles and caiman.

Kite Swallowtail

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Eurytides Butterfly in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Shiripuno River, Ecuador

Safety in Numbers

These are kite swallowtails in the Eurytides genus that often join sulfur butterflies as they do their puddling behavior.

They too drink the water to obtain different minerals and can be distinguished from the sulfurs by their tails and black markings.

It’s safer for butterflies to drink in groups as they benefit from safety in numbers.

If a predator attacks these highly conspicuous animals, a single butterfly in a group is less likely to be eaten than if drinking alone.

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador

Butterfly Watching in Ecuador

You can go Butterfly Watching in Ecuador in any direction: from the towering Andes to the dense Amazonian rainforest, Ecuador is incredibly diverse.

Ecuador is arguably the butterfly capital of the world!

Ecuador contains approximately 2850 species in the families Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Riodinidae, and Lycaenidae.

About 50-55% of all Neotropical species in these groups (25% of the World’s species), turning Ecuador into one of the world’s three most diverse countries, along with Colombia and Peru.

The Butterflies’ Families, Genera, and Species of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador:


The Nymphalidae are the largest family of butterflies with more than 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world, belonging to the superfamily Papilionoidea.

These are usually medium-sized to large butterflies.

Most species have a reduced pair of forelegs and many hold their colorful wings flat when resting.

They are also called brush-footed butterflies or four-footed butterflies because they are known to stand on only four legs while the other two are curled up; in some species, these forelegs have a brush-like set of hairs, which gives this family its other common name.

Many species are brightly colored and include popular species such as the emperors, monarch butterflies, admirals, tortoiseshells, and fritillaries.

However, the underwings are, in contrast, often dull and in some species look remarkably like dead leaves, or are much paler, producing a cryptic effect that helps the butterflies blend into their surroundings.

Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron)
Butterflies of Ecuador
Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron). Nymphalidae. Garzcocha (La Selva Lodge), Ecuador
  • The Walter Daggerwing, Marpesia zerynthia

  • Ruddy Daggerwing, Marpesia petreus

  • Amber Daggerwing, Marpesia berania

  • Livius Daggerwing, Marpesia livius

  • Pansy Daggerwing, Marpesia marcella

  • Sunset Daggerwing, Marpesia furcula

  • Banded-white Ringlet, Pareuptychia ocirrhoe

  • 89 Butterfly Diaethria, clymena

  • Blue-and-Orange 88, Callicore molina

  • Cyane Emperor, Doxocopa cyane

  • Doris Longwing, Heliconius doris

  • Malachite, Siproeta stelenes

  • Rusty-tipped Page, Siproeta epaphus

  • Midnight Purplewing, Eunica norica

  • Orange Admiral, Hypanartia lethe

  • Clearwing-mimic, Queen Lycorea ilione

  • Orea Banner, Epiphile orea

  • Orange-banded Emperor, Doxocopa elis

  • Thessalia Sister, Adelpha thessalia

  • Cocala Sister, Adelpha cocala

  • Blue Aeilus, Baeotus aeilus

  • Dazzling Glasswing, Godryis duillia

  • Rose-colored Cytharia puerta

  • Scarlet Peacock, Anartia omathea

  • Julia Heliconia, Dryas julia

  • Pastazena Crescent, Tegosa pastazena

  • Pink-bodied Altinote, Altinote neleus

  • Orange-bodied Altinote, Altinote alcione


Lycaenidae is the second-largest family of butterflies (behind Nymphalidae, brush-footed butterflies), with over 6,000 species worldwide, whose members are also called gossamer-winged butterflies. They constitute about 30% of the known butterfly species.

Adults are small, under 5 cm usually, and brightly colored, sometimes with a metallic gloss.

Larvae are often flattened rather than cylindrical, with glands that may produce secretions that attract and subdue ants. Their cuticles tend to be thickened. Some larvae are capable of producing vibrations and low sounds that are transmitted through the substrates they inhabit. They use these sounds to communicate with ants.

Adult individuals often have hairy antenna-like tails complete with a black and white annulated (ringed) appearance. Many species also have a spot at the base of the tail and some turn around upon landing to confuse potential predators from recognizing the true head orientation. This causes predators to approach from the true head end resulting in early visual detection.

The Butterflies of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Arawacus separata
  • Striped Hairstreak Arawacus separata


The Riodinidae are members of the Superfamily Papilionoidea, the true butterflies. They typically thrive in tropical latitudes, especially those of the Americas, and approximately 1,300 species are known.

Small to medium in size, metalmarks vary widely in their patterns, behavior, and postures. Males have reduced front legs that are not used for walking, and females have three pairs of walking legs.

Adults usually perch with their wings spread open or cocked slightly, while many tropical species habitually perch upside down on large leaves.

Males locate mates by perching, rather than patrolling. Egg shape varies widely, but caterpillars are typically slug-shaped. Metalmarks overwinter in the larval or pupal stage.

  • Neurodes Metalmark Siseme reurodes

  • Aulestes Swordtail Ancyluris aulestes

  • Black-edged Bluemark Lasaia moeros


The Pieridae are a large family of butterflies most pierid butterflies are white, yellow, or orange in coloration, often with black spots.

The pigments that give the distinct coloring to these butterflies are derived from waste products in the body and are characteristic of this family.
The sexes usually differ, often in the pattern or number of the black markings.
The larvae (caterpillars) of a few of these species, commonly seen in gardens, feed on brassicas and are notorious agricultural pests.
Males of many species exhibit gregarious mud-puddling behavior when they may imbibe salts from moist soils.

  • Philoma White Leptophobia philoma

  • Salmon-lined White Perrhybris lorena

  • Tailed Sulphur Phoebis neocypris

  • Mimosa Yellow Pyrisitia nise


The Papilionidae belong to the Superfamily Papilionoidea, the true butterflies. Swallowtails are worldwide in distribution and comprise approximately 560 species.

They are the richest in the tropics, and their brilliant colors make them the favorites of butterfly enthusiasts.

Many swallowtail species, especially in the tropics, mimic other butterflies that are distasteful, while others are distasteful and cause birds and other vertebrate predators to regurgitate.

Swallowtail adults are medium to large and may or may not have tails, while parnassian adults are medium, tailless, and have translucent wings.

All adult parnassians and swallowtails have three pairs of walking legs, and adults of all species visit flowers for nectar.

  • Lycidas Swallowtail Batis lycidas

  • King Page Swallowtail Heraclides thoas

  • Dioxippus Kite Swallowtail Neographium dioxippus


Skippers are a family, Hesperiidae, of the Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). Being diurnal, they are generally called butterflies.

They were previously placed in a separate superfamily, Hesperioidea; however, the most recent taxonomy places the family in the superfamily Papilionoidea.

They are named for their quick, darting flight habits.

Most have the antenna tip modified into a narrow hook-like projection.

More than 3500 species of skippers are recognized, and they occur worldwide, but with the greatest diversity in the Neotropical regions of Central and South America.

  • Velvet Anastrus Anastrus baterias

  • Common Anastrus Anastrus sempiternus

  • Two-barred Flasher Astraptes fulgerator

  • Cryptic Mylon Mylon cajus

  • Passova Firetip Passova passova

  • Teleus Longtail Urbanus teleus

  • Split-banded Firetip Jemadia hewitsonii

  • Violaceous Bent-skipper Cycloglypha thrasibulus


butterfly watching tours
Come and Join Us on Our Butterfly of Ecuador Tour!! We visit all the major ecoregions such as the Andes, Amazon Rainforest, Cloud forest, Beach