The Malachite (Siproeta stelenes), a large neotropical brushfoot butterfly, represents the genus in North America.
The green and black wings take on the color of the malachite mineral as it appears naturally in stones found on the ground or refined for jewelry settings.
While abundant in Central America and Mexico, its range is limited to southern Florida and South Texas. It occasionally flies north as far as Kansas.
The size and color make it a very popular butterfly, and it's often raised for display at butterfly houses. The top and bottom pictures were taken at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge during an unusually high population year.
The caterpillars feed on leaves from plants in the wild petunia family, Ruellia L. Rotten fruit is the preferred food for adults.
Malachites are closely related to the Peacock butterflies (Anartia), another subtropical genus with a small North American presence.
© 2007-2011. Patricia A. Michaels