Butterflies of Africa
Green False Acraea
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - LIMENITIDINI
Bunso, Ghana ©
are 16 species in Pseudacraea - a
wholly Afrotropical genus. The butterflies are popularly known as
False Acraeas because many of the species are excellent mimics of
the glassy-winged true Acraea species.
Pseudacraea semire however, although
having the black basal spots so typical of Acraeas, seems to bear a
stronger resemblance to Graphium
Swallowtails than to anything else.
Birds and reptilian predators see them in their full glorious colour
though, and can certainly make out the details of their wing
patterns. It is they that the mimicry is aimed at fooling, and
despite significant differences in size, flight behaviour and
habitat choice, many unrelated but similarly coloured impostors can
pass themselves off as the same species of butterfly. A large number
of palatable butterflies have evolved to do so because birds, having
tasted an unpalatable butterfly, tend to reject any similarly
coloured species. Thus the palatable butterflies survive to produce
new generations, alongside their unpalatable and toxic cohorts.
Pseudacraea semire is distributed from
Sierra Leone to Uganda, western Tanzania and Zambia.
This is a forest species, and can be found in secondary woodland,
coastal dry forest, and along riparian edges in woodland / savannah
The larval foodplants include Ouratea, Ochna
and Campylospermum ( Ochnaceae ).
Males are reminiscent of
Charaxes in behaviour, with a fast
powerful flight, in which they circle around trees and settle on the
upper foliage to look out for passing females. They intercept almost
any large fast butterfly that passes, and usually return to their
original perching leaf. They have acute eyesight that can detect the
slightest movement, so they are very alert and easily disturbed. If
left in peace however they will fully outspread their wings to bask,
displaying the gorgeous green-spotted upperside. Unfortunately when
they do so they are so high up in the tree that obtaining a photo of
the upperside is almost impossible.