Butterflies of Africa
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - ACRAEINAE
Tribe - ACRAEINI
Acraea bonasia, Wli Falls, Ghana
© Adrian Hoskins
There are 228 Acraea species, of which
223 are Afrotropical in distribution. The majority are found in the
forests and savannahs of East Africa, while about 60 are found in
West Africa. Beyond Africa a further 5 species occur in the Oriental
region, and another is found in Australia / New Guinea. In the
neotropical region there are 50 additional species, but these are
normally placed in the genera Actinote,
Abananote due to differences in venation and genitalia.
Acraea species have elongate forewings
and rounded hindwings. The wings are thinly scaled and in many
species are semi-transparent. The scales wear off very easily so
that insects more than 4 or 5 days old have a glassy or greasy
appearance. The majority of species have a predominantly brownish or
greyish ground colour, marked with bands or patches of red or
orange. The basal area of the underside hindwings of most species is
marked with a pattern of small black spots.
Acraea bonasia is
distributed from Senegal to southern Sudan, and south to Uganda and
western Kenya and northern Tanzania.
This species is found in primary and secondary forest habitats, at
altitudes between sea level and about 1300m.
The larval foodplants include Clappertonia,
Triumfetta ( Tiliaceae ) and
Hibiscus ( Malvaceae ).
Acraea bonasia, Wli Falls, Ghana / Togo border
© Adrian Hoskins
small delightful Acraea has a slow,
feeble flight, but is quite tenacious, being capable of clinging
tightly to leaves in the stiffest of breezes. It is usually seen in
low numbers, but in the dry season migratory swarms of several
hundreds sometimes descend to drink at damp ground at the edges of
puddles or streams. Males also commonly visit carnivore dung.