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Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Marbled Mapwing
Cyrestis cocles   FABRICIUS, 1787
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CYRESTINAE
Tribe - CYRESTINI
Cyrestis cocles earli f. formosa, Bukit Tapah, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The Mapwings, together with their relatives in Chersonesia are medium sized butterflies noted for their attractive patterns of fine lines, and tailed hindwings.
The genus Cyrestis comprises of 25 species, of which 17 occur in the Oriental region. Only 4 occur in West Malaysia - themire, cocles, nivea and maenalis. An additional species theresae occurs on Sumatra and Borneo, while the remainder are found variously from India to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon islands; except for a single species camilla, found in Africa and Madagascar.
Cyrestis cocles is distributed from Sikkim in India, to Myanmar, Thailand, West Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, but is absent from Sumatra and Java.
The butterfly is seasonally dimorphic - the wet season morph f. formosa is illustrated above. The dry season morph f. earli has a very pale creamy white ground colour, patterned with very fine orange-brown striations. In both forms the male and female are similar, although the female is a little paler and has slightly more rounded wings. Cyrestis themire is very similar to the formosa morph of cocles, but more heavily marked.
Habitats
Cyrestis cocles is the rarest member of the genus in Malaysia. It is found in primary and secondary forest at elevations between sea level and about 800 metres, and normally encountered along wide forest trails, or in quarries or other cleared areas, often close to human habitations.
Lifecycle
The early stages of cocles appear to be unrecorded. Corbet & Pendlebury state that the related Cyrestis themire has been bred on Streblus ilicifolius ( Moraceae ), and that the foodplants of other Cyrestis species include Tetracera sarmentosa and Ficus".
Adult behaviour
Both sexes have a gentle but deceptively rapid gliding flight. They will venture out of the forest to bask on gravel roads on overcast days, but in sunny weather usually remain in the shade.
Males can sometimes be found at moist spots in forest edge habitats, e.g. in May 2009 at Tapah Hills in West Malaysia I watched a group of 5 males imbibing moisture from damp gravel in the shade beside an Orang Asli dwelling. Usually only 2 or 3 of the butterflies would be on the ground at any moment, while the others hid under nearby foliage, with wings fully outspread. Periodically one of these would flutter down, glide in a low tight circle, and settle to feed, which prompted one or more of the males already on the ground to fly up and settle under a leaf of the same bush.

 

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