Butterflies of Africa
FELDER & FELDER,
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - ACRAEINAE
Tribe - ACRAEINI
© Adrian Hoskins
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 vestalis is
distributed from Senegal to western Tanzania.
This species inhabits both primary and degraded forest, at altitudes
between about 100-600m.
The larva has been bred in captivity on Adenia
( Passifloraceae ) but the foodplants used in the wild are unknown.
Likpe Hills, Ghana
© Adrian Hoskins
seek sunspots, where dappled sunlight filters through the canopy onto
low foliage. They use these as look-out posts from which to survey and
intercept passing females. Both sexes nectar at a wide range of wild
flowers. Males can also be encountered imbibing moisture from damp
soil along sunny paths and tracks.