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Butterflies of Africa
Abyssinian Red Admiral
Vanessa abyssinica
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - NYMPHALINI
Vanessa abyssinica, Wondo Genet, Ethiopia   Peter Bruce-Jones
Introduction
Surprisingly, this species was formerly included within the closely allied genus Antanartia, when it is clear from the wing shape, pattern and biology that it is more closely related to the Red Admirals, and belongs in Vanessa.
The genus Vanessa comprises 2 groups of species. The first group of 11 species were at one time placed within Cynthia, which includes the Painted Lady Vanessa cardui - the most widely distributed species of butterfly in the world. The second group consists of 10 similarly marked species, known commonly as the Red Admirals.
The Red Admirals ( the name is believed to be a corruption of "Red Admirable" ) all share the same basic pattern, having a blackish-brown ground colour with a bright orange or red diagonal band on the forewings, a similarly coloured submarginal band on the hindwings, and a series of small white subapical spots. The underside hindwings of all Red Admirals are cryptically patterned in grey and brown, usually with traces of blue.
Vanessa abyssinica is distributed from Ethiopia to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
Habitats
This species is found in montane habitats, at altitudes between about 1400-2800m.
Lifecycle
The larval foodplants include Australina, Obetia, Pouzolzia and Urtica ( Urticaceae ).
Adult behaviour

Males are territorial in behaviour, and perch on low foliage, with their wings held half open, to await passing females. They are aggressive, intercepting and chasing away other butterflies, and will even swoop up and "buzz" intruding humans.

In the relatively cool conditions early in the day, both sexes bask on bare ground, with wings fully outspread. Once it gets warmer the males will imbibe moisture from damp patches of ground, and are strongly attracted to urine and dung. Towards the end of the afternoon both sexes bask on low foliage. As dusk approaches they move onto tree trunks, where they roost for the night in a head downwards posture.

 

 

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