Owl Butterfly – Caligo sp.

Owl Butterfly – Caligo species

Range: Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador.
Family Nymphalidae – Brush-Footed Butterflies

Butterflies in the genus Caligo are commonly called Owl butterflies due to the presence of large eyespots (ocelli) on the underside hindwings, which resemble the eyes of the familiar bird of prey. The function of butterfly (and all other insects’) eyespots are not conclusively known, but it is thought they distract would-be predators.

Larvae of the genus feed on leaves of the banana plant, and are considered a major pest in South American countries that produce the crop.

Blue Morpho on left, Owl butterfly on rightBlue Morpho on left, Owl butterfly on right

Family Nymphalidae – Brushfoots or brush-footed butterflies encompass approximately 3,000 species worldwide, of which 160 or so live in or visit North America. This is a very diverse family of butterflies, and they occur everywhere except the polar ice caps. Their unifying characteristic is the reduced forelegs of both males and females [3]. The habit of holding the forelegs close to the body is shared with many other insects, including bumblebees, flies, bugs and beetles.


  1. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders Chanticleer Press 1980
  2. Wikipedia, Tribe Brassolini
  3. Arthur Evans, National Wildlife Federation Guide to Insects & Spiders of North America

Moths Index | Moths | Butterflies Main | Butterflies Index | Skippers

Tree Encyclopedia / North American Insects & Spiders is dedicated to providing family-friendly educational
resources for our friends around the world through large images and macro photographs of flora and fauna.

Online since 2002