Banded Peacock
Banded Peacock butterfly

Banded Peacock

Anartia fatima

Photo by Jenn Sinasac

One of the most common and abundant butterflies in Panama, this medium-sized (6-7 cm) brushfoot butterfly (family Nymphalidae) is brown above with a bold cream-white band across each fore and hindwing.  Its hindwings also show a patch of red. Its hindwing margins are undulated and feature a “bumplike” tail. The larva (caterpillar) has a black body with reddish-brown spines and spots. Spines are finely branched, and the head has two knobbed horns, also with fine spines. The pupa is translucent jade green with a few dark spots.

Banded Peacocks are active year-round. Both males and females are diurnal. Caterpillars feed on host plants from the family Acanthaceae, including the genera Blechum, Justicia, Dicliptera and Ruellia. Adults feed on flower nectar. Males perch on low vegetation and spend much time and energy chasing after other males and females. Females oviposit eggs individually on host plants, most frequently at midday. Despite adult lifespan being only 2 weeks, they are a very common and abundant species throughout Central America.

There is a lot of individual variation in Banded Peacocks; bands vary in color from yellow to cream to white. Part of the yellow-white polymorphism is due to genetic causes and subject to natural and sexual selection and part is due to aging.

Banded Peacocks are common in subtropical and tropical open areas—fields, orchards, second growth and disturbed areas. They are widespread throughout Central America from Mexico to Panama, and even extend on occasion into south Texas. They are found from sea level to 1500 meters elevation. In Panama, this is the most commonly encountered butterfly at all the Canopy Family lodges.