Starry Night Cracker Butterfly

close up Starry Night Cracker Butterfly Hamadryas Iaodamia with white and blue markings

There are 20 different butterflies of the genus Hamadryas. These butterflies are commonly known as Crackers, due to the males of the species having the ability to produce a percussive sound similar to the crackling of bacon in a frying pan. This unusual skill is believed to be either for mating or warding off rivals. Hamadryas Iaodamia, or the Starry Night butterfly, is unique to this genus because it is the only one of its kind that does not produce this universally identifying crackling sound.

The Starry Night butterfly ranges between Central and South America and was first described by the wealthy Dutch linen merchant Pieter Cramer in 1777. Robert A. Heinlein once said, “Butterflies are not insects, they are self-propelled flowers.” How about self-propelled paintings? The common name Starry Night is derived from the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh. One look at this majestic butterfly and you will immediately see the resemblance. Its dorsal coloration is commonly colored in different sizes of spots which are closely resemble bark, however, some have coloration like the Starry Night.

Hamadryas laodamia prefers warm climates, spending most of the day perched on the likes of large rocks and tree bark that matches wing coloration. Instead of evolving to be poisonous like many of its fellow Lepidoptera, Hamadryas laodamia has adapted the use of mimicry to avoid predators. This member of the Neotropical genus perches on surfaces with their wings pressed flat. The Starry Night butterfly differentiates itself once again from its fellow butterflies by feeding on rotting fruit, tree sap, and animal dung as opposed to nectar.

The Chirstina Reiman Butterfly Wing is home to roughly 800 butterflies, with most of them being tropical. Enjoying a constant 80% F with 80% humidity, we are able to provide the ideal habitat for our winged friends. Please come and enjoy the Butterfly Wing here at Reiman Gardens and all the educational and inspirational displays it has to offer.

— Jacob Smith, Reiman Gardens’ Greenhouse Production and Display Intern