Photo by Tino Sanchez
The Starry Cracker is an eye-catching creature; it has velvety blue-black wings with bright blue iridescent spots. Unlike other crackers, males and females are sexually dimorphic; females have a broad white band across the forewing. This medium-sized brush-foot (family Nymphalidae) is not only one of the most beautiful butterflies, but one of the most interesting, as well. The common name “cracker” comes from the peculiar sound that the males make during their territorial displays and to deter predators. Members of this group have a swollen vein on their forewing that they can clap together in flight to produce a clicking sound, similar to the crackling of bacon in a frying pan! What is even more unique about this species in particular is that the Starry Cracker is the non-cracking cracker! It is believed to have lost this ability, and instead has adapted scent organs and sexual dimorphism to interact with other individuals. Like other Hamadryas, they perch on tree trunks, upside down and with their wings flat against the bark. They feed on rotting fruit, sap and animal dung. The Starry Cracker is found from Mexico through the Amazon Basin, in lowland humid forests up to 900m. They can be found throughout Panama, and are one of the more memorable butterflies encountered at our lodges!
Fun fact! This butterfly is also called the Starry Night Cracker, inspired by Van Gogh’s famous painting.