This wonderful present came my way while I was taking a walk through Satara Rest Camp on Christmas Day last year when we were visiting the Kruger National Park for our summer holiday. Looking this butterfly up in my guide book i thought “What a beautiful name for a beautiful butterfly!”
Protogoniomorpha (Salamis) anacardii
The Clouded Mother-of-Pearl is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of up to 7cm. They prefer dense habitats ranging from coastal and montane forests to riverine galleries, and in South Africa are found through coastal Kwazulu-Natal and into the Lowveld and escarpment of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Adults are seen throughout the year though their numbers reach a peak in late summer and early autumn. Their flight may seem ungainly but they’re exceptionally quick when troubled – this one gave me quite the walk-around through camp trying to take its picture. Clouded Mothers-of-Pearl love sitting exposed on prominent perches such as leaves and flowers, apparently basking in the sun – behaviour this one also displayed at least long enough so I could get a few photographs.
While visiting Cape Vidal in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in March 2022 we again encountered this beautiful butterfly, though this time a really tattered specimen.