Butterflies of Africa
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - JUNONIINI
Bobiri forest, Ghana
© Adrian Hoskins
Hypolimnas comprises of 29 species
worldwide including 15 in the Afrotropical region, of which 7 occur
in West Africa. All are palatable to birds, but some such as
aubergeri and dinarcha have
evolved colours and patterns that mimic unpalatable Danaines or
Acraeines, so they are able
to fool birds into leaving them alone.
The butterflies in
this genus are popularly known as Egg-flies because of the
remarkable behaviour of two Asian species -
anomala and antilope, which
stand guard over their egg batches, protecting them from attack by
parasitoid wasps. The females remain in position for several days,
guarding their eggs until they hatch, and usually die in situ.
salmacis is a widely distributed species, being found across
most of sub-Saharan Africa from Sierra Leone to Sudan and Ethiopia,
and south as far as Congo, Uganda and n.w. Tanzania.
This species is found mainly in
open or degraded forest, but also occurs in riverine forest habitats
and in dense savannah.
The larval foodplants are Fleurya and
Urera ( Urticaceae ).
perch with wings half-open on bushes
or saplings along the edges of forest roads,
to await passing females.
Occasionally they descend to imbibe moisture from damp ground, and at
these times they nervously flit from spot to spot.