Butterflies and Moths

Burnished Opals – Chrysoritis chrysaor

Here is a small collection of some Burnished Opals taken in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. They were a taken with a Canon 7D camera with a Tamron 90mm VC lens. These are some of the most stunning butterflies in my humble opinion and believe me, they are not easy to shoot with a camera!

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

The males of this species grow to size between 22mm and 27mm whilst the female have a slightly wider range of between 23mm and 30mm.

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

The distribution of the Chrysoritis chrysaor is widespread in South Africa, but mainly in the east. It is also found in fynbos up the west coast of the Western Cape, in Nama Karoo or Western Cape and Eastern Cape, in the valley bushveld near Port Alfred, Kwazulu Natal, Free State, South Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

Burnished Opal’s flight period is all year round at the coast, but peaks in November and February at high altitudes.

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

It’s habitats include the following; Coasts, flatlands, mountains, hillsides and rocky slopes. Their larval foodplants include; Tylecondon paniculatus, Cotyledon orbiculata, Zygophyllum sessilifolium and Zygophyllum retrofractum, Acacia karroo and Rhus spp. The larvae is associated with Crematorgaster nr liengmei ants.

References: Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

Chrysoritis chrysaor -- Burnished opal -  Besembos Goue-opaal

Garden Inspector or Commodore – Precis archesia archesia

The Garden Inspector or the Garden Commodore is from the genus Precis. This genus consists of robust, medium-sized and brightly coloured nymphalines. These are similar to Junonia (the Pansies), but they don’t have eye spots and great difference in colour and markings of the wet season form and dry season form. Their flight is fast and agile; often found sitting on the ground opening and closing their wings. They are fond of flowers.

Eggs are laid on Lamiaceae ( The mints, taxonomically known as Lamiaceae or Labiatae, are a family of flowering plants ), are bulb shaped, green to yellow, with 10-16 prominent glassy longitudinal ribs and sometimes 25-40 cross ridges.

Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

The wingspan of the male ranges from 45-50mm and the females range is from 50-60mm. They look pretty similar, but the female’s wings are rounder. The dry season form colours of Precis archesia archesia are brown , maroon and blue and the wet season form colours are brown with cream to buff postdiscal bands.
Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

The distribution: Savanna, grassland and forests from Western Cape (knysna area) to the Eastern Cape and up to Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and NW Provinces.

Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

Habitat: Forest Edges, parks and gardens, hill tops, hillsides, rocky slopes and gullies.
Flight period: All year round
Food Plant: Plectranthus spp. ( a genus of warm-climate plants occurring largely in the southern hemisphere, in sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, India and the Indonesian archipelago down to Australia and some Pacific Islands )

Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

These photos were taken at the van Stadens Flower Reserve outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

 

 

Common and Water Geranium Bronze Butterflies

Both the Geranium Bronze (Cacyreus marshalli) and the Water Bronze (Cacyreus tespis tespis) are butterflies from the  family Lycaenidae. They are both small, low-flying butterflies, with the undersides a ground-colour brown, irrorated with white. The fore-wing has a series of darker brown spots edged with white. The hind wing underside is marbled with brown, white and black and the upper side is either blue or shiny brown. The eggs laid  resemble the shape of pills, with a concave top and a pattern of ribs in involuted curves, radiating from the micropyl, forming triangles and quadrangles. There are small knobs where the ribs cross. Their lava are slug-shaped and are green or pale pink. You would find the pupa beneath the debris of the food plant, in this case either Lamiaceae (mint plants) or Geraniaceae (geraniums, pelargoniums).

Geranium Bronze (Cacyreus marshalli)
The male size ranges from 15-23 mm whilst the female ranges from 18-27 mm.

  • Their distribution is very widespread, probably originally in the south-western parts of South Africa, but have spread to the rest of the country and even up to Europe. Found in forests, savanna, grasslands from Western Cape to Eastern Cape, along the coast, along the Drakensberg at varying altitudes and into Natal, Freestate, Lesotho,  Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West Province.
  • Their habitats are parks, gardens, gullies, mountains, coast, hillsides, wetlands and flatlands.
  • Flight period is all year round in warmer areas, usually August to May, at highest altitudes only December and January.
  • Laval Food are buds, flowers and green seeds of Geranium and Pelargonium spp.

Cacyreus marshalli  - Common geranium bronze

 

Cacyreus marshalli  - Common geranium bronze

Water Bronze or Blue Bronze (Cacyreus tespis tespis)
The male size ranges from 15-25 mm whilst the female ranges from 17-25 mm.

  • Their distribution is also widespread, common to grassland. From Western Cape to Eastern Cape, along the coast, along the Drakensberg at varying altitudes (up to 3000m) and into Natal, Freestate, Lesotho, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo.
  • Their habitats are  gullies, mountains, coast and wetlands.
  • Flight period is all year round in warmer areas, usually August to May, at highest altitudes only December and January.
  • Laval Food are buds, flowers and green seeds of Geranium and Pelargonium spp.

Cacyreus fracta fracta - Water geranium bronze - Water-malvabloutjie

 

Cacyreus fracta fracta - Water geranium bronze - Water-malvabloutjie

 

Depicta Copper – Aloeides depicta

The Depicta CopperAloeides depicta is pretty small butterfly ranging from 26mm to 29mm in the males and 29mm to 35mm in the females. Depicta is a relatively variable butterfly, colour-wise. The upperside being a ground colour orange with a wide grey-black border.  The hind wing underside is sandy to buff-brown, occasionally reddish.
The distribution of  this Aloeides is fynbos, Nama Karoo along mountain chains from Matjiesfontein to Gydo Mountain and also Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth. It’s habitats include hillsides and rocky ledges. It’s flight period is in the warmer months of the year being September to June. The Depicta Copper’s larval food is  Aspalathus. Aspalathus is the genus to which the rooibos tea plant belongs, is the largest member of the pea family endemic to South Africa.
These pictures were taken in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Depicta copper - Aloeides depicta

Another Shot of a different Depicta copper:

Depicta copper - Aloeides depicta

Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

The Pearl Emperor – Charaxes varanes varanes

From the Genus, Charaxes – Emperors, comes this absolutely stunning Pearl Emperor.  The Charaxes species are generally brightly colours in shades of orange and red or iridescent blue. They are aggressive and territorial and will chase or push other butterflies away from food sources. The larva are usually green. The pupae are also green, sometimes with white stripes or streaks, rounded with more or less pointed head.
The Pearl Emperor, however, has orange and pearly-white wings and very conspicuous against foliage. The underside colour us quite variable, often golden brown, but can look like the picture below with almost a greenish-brown-silver look to it. The wings’ veins are also green in colour. These are relatively big butterflys with males from around 65mm – 70mm and females from 70mm – 90mm.
The distribution of the Pearl Emperor is Eastern Cape from Mossel Bay to Kwazulu Natal and Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces.
Their habitats include: forest edges, flatlands and the coast. They fly all year round in warmer areas with a week peak in September to November and a stronger peak from January to June.
Their larval foodplant consist of: Allophylus africanusAllophylus dregeanusAllophylus natalensis and also Cardiospermum halicacabum. This shot was taken at “The Island” reserve, near Seaview Lion Park, outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa“.

Pearl Emperor - Charaxes varanes varanes

A shot with the wings open of the same butterfly.

Pearl Emperor - Charaxes varanes varanes

African Grass Blue – Zizeeria knysna knysna

This little African Grass Blue, Zizeeria knysna knysna, was shot in one of the suburbs close to where I live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Another tricky little butterfly to photography as it is really skittish. It is a common, widespread butterfly, which one will find throughout South Africa. The Zizeeria knysna knysna is also known as the Sooty Blue.  It habitats gardens, parks and fields, flatlands, wetlands, forest edges, mountains and hillsides. They fly all year round, but peak from October to December and February to April. Their larval foods include Tribulus terrestris (devil’s thorn), Amaranthus deflexus and Amaranthus viridis, Oxalis corniculata (Yellow Wood Sorrel) and  Medicago saltiva (Lucerne plant). Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa“.

African grass blue

African Clouded Yellow Butterfly

One of the rare opportunities I have had to snap one of these stunning butterflies. They are from the family Pieridae and subfamily Coliadinae. The genus is Colias, which contains the Clouded Yellows.  These two butterflies are African Clouded Yellows or Lucerne ButterfliesColias electo electo.
The distributions of Colias electo electo  are throughout South Africa in all biomes. African Clouded Yellows’ habitats included; fields, parks, gardens, coastal areas, forest edges, mountains and wetlands. Their flight is throughout the year, but will peak between April and August. The lava will eat Lucerne (Medicago Saltiva).

These two photos were taken in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

 

African Clouded Yellow Butterfly

Another Clouded Yellow, shot on a different day, but looks a little on the damaged side.

African Clouded Yellow Butterfly

Common Hottentot Skipper

The Common Hottentot Skipper is from the family Hesperiidae and sub-family Hesperiinae. This skipper is also know as Gegenes niso niso.  They are relatively small butterflies with the male being about 29-33mm and the female 29-35mm – not much bigger.  Hottentot Skipper’s are very c0mmon and widespread through South Africa. Their  habitats are forest areas, wetlands, flatlands, hill tops, parks, gardens, mountains and along the coast.  They fly all year round in the warmer areas, but will peak around the October – March time. Their larval food is Pennisetum claudestinum (kikuyu grass) , Ehrharta (Common names for this genus include veldtgras) and Cynodon (commonly known as Bermuda Grass or Dog’s Tooth Grass). Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

Common Hottentot Skipper

Eyed Pansy – Junonia orithya madagascariensis

This photograph was taken in Port Elizabeth at the back of the suburb known as Linton Grange.  She was really obliging and sat really still for the forty odd shots that I took of her. This image was one of the photos that I really liked, but it was a little busy, so toned down the background a little to bring the butterfly out a bit.
The Eyed Pansy has its territories on hill tops, ridges and will sit on the ground or on low vegetation. It will chase away intruders to its territory  even if the intruders are bigger butterflies than itself. The Eyed Pansy is common, but  not as common as the Yellow Pansy. Can be found from Eastern Cape to KwaZulu Natal, Swaziland, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, Freestate, Northern Cape and North West Provinces. Their habitats include hill tops, parks, gardens and forest edges. It’s larval food is Scrophulariaceae snapdragons, and the common South African foodplant is Graderia subintegra – Wild Penstemon.
Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book
Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa
Blue Pansy

Reflecting Tussock Moth

This is a Red Dotted Euproctis MothEuproctis rufopunctata. Its part of the Lymantriidae family which consists of the Tussock moths. The adult moths of this family do not feed and tend to be very hairy. They also give off urticating hairs – not good for asthma sufferers! The larvae are also hairy, often with hairs packed in tufts, and in many species the hairs break off very easily and are extremely irritating to the skin (especially members of the genus Euproctis; Schaefer, 1989). This highly effective defence serves the moth throughout its life cycle as the hairs are incorporated into the cocoon, from where they are collected and stored by the emerging adult female at the tip of the abdomen and used to camouflage and protect the eggs as they are laid. Thanks to Steve Woodhall for the ID. Look out for his book: “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

Reflecting Tussock Moth