Tag Archives: South African Butterflies

Rainforest Brown

Cassionympha cassius

The Rainforest Brown butterfly occurs in forests, wooded ravines and thick bush, flying low along thickly vegetated margins and paths and settling often. They’re endemic to Swaziland and South Africa and occur commonly along the southern and eastern coastline and adjacent interior as far inland as the escarpment and the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

Larvae feed on grasses of the Juncus and Pentaschistis genuses. Adults are seen between September and May and have a wingspan of 3-4cm. The Rainforest Brown is listed as being of least concern in the South African Red Data Book.

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Common Zebra Blue

Leptotes pirithous

The Common Zebra Blue is a widespread butterfly in South Africa, considered of least concern and occurring in natural vegetation, cultivated fields and gardens all over the country throughout the year. They’re also familiar over most of the rest of Africa, Madagascar, the Near East and southern Europe.

The larvae feeds on Plumbago and plants from the legume family. Their complete life-cycle spans about 2 months. Adults often congregate at wet mud and have a wingspan of 2-3cm.

Chasing butterflies at Golden Gate

This afternoon, Joubert and I went searching for butterflies in the grasslands around Glen Reenen Rest Camp in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and we were not disappointed!

 

Garden Commodore

Precis (Junonia) archesia

The Garden Commodore, or Garden Inspector, is a familiar butterfly occurring year round in South Africa, having quite distinctly marked dry season (April to August) and wet season (September to March) variations that could easily be taken to be altogether different species. Females are bigger than the males and at 6cm their wingspan is at least 1cm wider than that of the males. With their wings closed Garden Commodores, especially the dry season form, resemble dead leaves.

As their name suggests, the Garden Inspector is commonly seen in well planted gardens, but their natural habitat is rocky, grass- and savanna-covered hills. They are fast flyers and often land in the open, on bare ground, rocks or pathways. In South Africa they are found from the Eastern Cape, through Kwazulu-Natal into the Lowveld and Bushveld regions of the country.