Variable Cracker Butterfly
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Common Name: Variable Cracker
Scientific Name: Hamadryas Feronia
Wingspan: 7.3 - 8.3 cm
Location: Southern parts of the United States south to Brazil
The butterflies are commonly known as Crackers due to the ability of the males of several species to produce a sound similar to the crackling of bacon in a frying pan. The sound is produced as the butterflies take off, and is made by twanging a pair of spiny rods at the tip of the abdomen against bristles on the anal claspers. Only males can produce the sound, but both sexes can detect it - their wings have tiny hollow cells covered in membranes that vibrate in response to sound, and stimulate nerve endings. The purpose of the sound is not known. It may possibly deter competing males from occupying the same territory, or could act as a trigger to initiate the first response from a female during courtship. All Hamadryas species have a beautiful calico pattern on the upperside. In several species the ground colour is greyish and the pattern acts as an extremely effective camouflage against the bark of trees. In others, the wings are velvety black with a blue sheen and a pattern of bright blue spots.