Giant red eyes
The other evening around 18.30 I saw a butterfly flying around indoors. I caught it with a net to release it outdoors, but first I wanted to identify it. To my surprise it was a huge skipper (Hesperiidae) of a genus known to fly at dusk: ‘the giant redeye’ (Gangara thyrsis).
Skippers are called ‘fat heads’ in Swedish, a descriptive feature. There are 311 species of skippers in Thailand. The family name Hesperiidae is derived from the hesperids in Greek mythology. They were nymphs, guardians of a tree with golden apples.
The genus Gangara is characterized by its big head, big red eyes and crepuscular activity and is attracted to light (it came back three times and eventually settled on the outside of a glass door to be near the light). This particular species is big, 70 mm between the fore wings, and the tips of the fore wings have three clear spots, and three large yellow blotches. The larva seems to feed on anything from to banana to coconut.
There is another stout nocturnal butterfly in Chiang Mai: the moth butterfly Liphyra brassolis (Lycaenidae). It has the reversed colours of the giant redeye: yellow with brown blotches. Its larva feeds exclusively on larvae of red weaver ants. If anyone sees this rare species, please let me know. To see it in real life is a dream of mine.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell