Split-banded Owlet (Opsiphanes cassina)

This large, brown, female Split-banded Owlet (Opsiphanes cassina fabricii) flew into the mosquito netting over my bed one day, allowing me to get a close-up photo of her.

Female Split-banded Owlet (Opsiphanes cassina fabricii) butterfly

Split-banded Owlets are common in disturbed areas throughout Costa Rica, especially near palms. The adult butterflies feed on rotting fruits and wet dung, while the green larvae feed on the leaves of many species of palm (Arecaceae). The females will deposit one egg at the base of each palm frond in late afternoon. After they hatch, the larvae will crawl up the frond and begin to eat the leaves. A Split-banded Owlet caterpillar will then construct a shelter out of one of the palm leaves by folding it over itself.

Because of their voracious appetite for palm leaves, Split-banded Owlet caterpillars are serious defoliators of the cultivated African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis) and American Oil Palm (Elaeis oleifera), common Costa Rican crops which produce fruits used in the production of palm oil for use in food and cosmetics.