Butterflies of Africa
Velvet Bush Brown
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
© Adrian Hoskins
Bicyclus is the most numerous of the
Satyrine genera in Africa, comprising of about 85 species, 50 of
which occur in West Africa. The butterflies are collectively known
as Bush Browns, and can be thought of as the sister genus to the
Bicyclus are characterised by having a
regular series of submarginal ocelli on the hindwings, and a pair of
ocelli on the forewings, of which the lower ocellus is always the
largest. In most species the ocelli are very prominent, but in a few
species such as sweadneri they are
vestigial, especially in the dry season morph. Most species have
very rounded wings but again there are a few exceptions such as
zinebi which has a squarish apex on its
forewings, and sambulos which has a
stumpy tail on the hindwings.
The upperside of
istaris is dark brown and devoid of
markings except for a large squarish patch of blackish androconial
scales near the tornus of the forewing. The underside is subject to
variation in the size of the ocelli, and tends to be paler in dry
Bicyclus istaris is distributed from
Sierra Leone to Sudan, and south to Uganda, western Kenya and
This species is found in open forest habitats, where it breeds in
small glades or along the edges of grassy tracks or roadsides.
The larval foodplants are grasses, of which several species are
probably used by wild populations.
rarely visits flowers, but can be found feeding at fermenting fruit on
the forest floor.