The Mystery of the Blue Shoemakers
Prepona antimache - King Shoemaker

All these shoemakers have this brilliant, irridescent blue stripe on black on their tops, except for one male - the Purple King Shoemaker.

You can easily tell it is a male by the brown tuft, the scent gland, on the lower wing, near the base of the thorax.

Imagine our surprise when we found an identical male without any purple!

Was it an abberation? Or a sub-species? Or a different spieces? The undersides of both were identical - note the four purple eyes.

Prepona laertes demodice- underside
And if it is a different species, what does it's female look like?

Did she look the same or did she have any obvious differences from the female of the Purple King? This was the situation when we left the country.

Prepona demophon
Shoemaker - underside
Prepona antimache
King Shoemaker - underside
We found the Shoemaker family particularly interesting. But an unsolved mystery was still intriguing us when we left Trinidad and, in spite of sporadic efforts, the enigma remains. Possibly it has in the meantime been solved by someone somewhere. If so we would be very glad to get the details.
Prepona laertes demodice
Purple King Shoemaker
Prepona laertes laertes?
Prepona demophon - Shoemaker (female)
In the meantime we have been told that the 'without' male is a different spieces, Laertes laertes but of the female question, there was no answer. Could anyone shed more light on this problem?
Sheomakers fly very fast and, with their silver/brownish undersides, look more like birds to the untrained eye. Looking all the same on top, the principal way to tell the different spiecies apart is by their undersides. Here are the other three in this group
Prepona meander
New Shoemaker - underside

This brings me to a gripe against museums which rarely show more than one underside per family, if that.

Many times differences between sexes can easily as seen by their undersides where the tops are identical. The underside, which is an essential part of their camoflage is every bit as important, and often as beautiful, as the side they use to attract a mate.


Back to Home Page