Jamaican sunset butterfly
The colorful Jamaican sunset butterflies live in the lowland rain forests along the Jamaican coast. The butterflies are active during the early morning hours and in the late afternoon. Then they visit in large swarms the avocado and cob-nut flowers. The leaves of these poisonous trees and bushes (Omphalea triandra) are the only or main food for the long-haired caterpillars of this butterfly species which after a population explosion locally defoliated the trees.
At the end of the 19th century the Jamaican sunset butterfly became extinct because of habitat destruction when the Jamaican lowland rainforests were cut down and converted to agriculture land.
Size: 64-76 mm
Biology: The Jamaican sunset butterfly is a dayflying butterfly, although it belongs to the moths, which are normally active at night. But the striking, bright colors of the Jamaican sunset butterfly advertise their day fly activities and they are to predators also a warning that this butterfly is toxic.
Habitat: Lowland rainforests, especially along the Jamaican coastline. They are always associated with the cob-nut trees and bushes, the main or only food plant of the butterfly’s caterpillars.
Extinction:In 1894-95 the Jamaican sunset butterfly became extinct. When the lowland rainforest trees were cut down and the land was converted to agriculture land, the caterpillars lost their foodplant.