Butterflies of Africa
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - ACRAEINAE
Tribe - ACRAEINI
Ghana © Adrian
There are 228 Acraea species, of which
223 are Afrotropical in distribution. The majority are found in the
forests and savannahs of East Africa, while about 60 are found in
West Africa. Beyond Africa a further 5 species occur in the Oriental
region, and another is found in Australia / New Guinea. In the
neotropical region there are 50 additional species, but these are
normally placed in the genera Actinote,
Abananote due to differences in venation and genitalia.
Acraea species have elongate forewings
and rounded hindwings. The wings are thinly scaled and in many
species are semi-transparent. The scales wear off very easily so
that insects more than 4 or 5 days old have a glassy or greasy
appearance. The majority of species have a predominantly brownish or
greyish ground colour, marked with bands or patches of red or
orange. The basal area of the underside hindwings of most species is
marked with a pattern of small black spots.
Acraea serena is
found across the entire African continent, including Madagascar and
most of the smaller islands.
This species inhabits savannah / woodland mosaics, secondary forest
and forest clearings, coastal grassland and dunes, farmland, parks,
gardens and wasteland, from sea level to about 1500m.
The main larval
foodplant is Triumfetta ( Tiliaceae ),
( Malvaceae ), Dombeyia,
Waltheria, ( Sterculiaceae ),
Nicotiana ( Soliaceae ),
Cordia ( Ehretiaceae ),
Tectona ( Verbenaceae ) are also recorded.
The butterflies are usually seen in two's
and three's, sometimes in larger numbers flying in open sunlit areas.
In late afternoon they gather in sheltered areas to roost among tall