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Butterflies of Africa
Danaid Eggfly
Hypolimnas misippus  LINNAEUS, 1764
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - JUNONIINI
Hypolimnas misippus female, Bobiri forest, Ghana Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The genus Hypolimnas comprises of 29 species worldwide.
The "Danaid" part of the common name refers to the fact that the female of this species is a mimic of the unpalatable ( to birds ) Danaid Danaus chrysippus - the bright orange Plain Tiger. The male however is quite different in appearance, being black on the upperside, with circular white patches that reflect a deep purple sheen in bright sunlight.
The "Eggfly" part is something of a misnomer, but refers to the remarkable behaviour of a closely related Asian species H. antilope, whose female sits over her batch of eggs, protecting them from attack by parasitoid wasps. She remains in position until the eggs hatch, and usually dies in situ.
Hypolimnas misippus is a very widely distributed species ( as is Danaus chrysippus ), being found across the entire African continent, and also on the Indian subcontinent, s.e. Asia and Australia. It has also colonised several Caribbean islands, and parts of northern South America.
Habitats
This species is extremely adaptable and can be found in many habitats including desert, savannah, acacia scrub, well vegetated beaches, open areas within tropical rainforest, and is a regular visitor to botanical gardens and flowers wastelands.
Lifecycle
The larval foodplants are very diverse, and include Portulaca, Talinum ( Portulacaceae ), Ruellia, Asystasia, Blepharis, Justicia, Pseuderanthemum ( Acanthaceae ), Amaranthus ( Amaranthaceae), Ipomoea ( Convolvulaceae ), Abelmoschus, Abutilon and Hibiscus ( Malvaceae ).
Adult behaviour

Males bask on the ground, or perch with wings half-open on bushes, to await passing females. The latter are most commonly seen flitting about on open ground looking for egg-laying sites.

Hypolimnas misippus male, Aburi, Ghana Adrian Hoskins

 

 

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