Butterflies of Africa
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Aburi, Ghana ©
There are about 130 species in the genus
Celaenorrhinus. 24 of these are found
in the Neotropical region, 50 are found in various parts of eastern
Asia, and 45 are Afrotropical in distribution.
There are several
yellow / orange species in Africa, of which
galenus is by far the commonest and most widespread. It is
distributed from Senegal to Cameroon, and probably further south,
but confusion between this and related species makes it difficult to
assess it's true status.
This species is found in rainforest, including degraded and
secondary forest. It also penetrates savannah country in riparian
forest, and can be found in arboreta and botanical gardens.
© Adrian Hoskins
The larvae feed on Justicia,
Hypolestes ( Acanthaceae ) and
Clerodendrum ( Verbenaceae ).
vernacular name Orange Sprite is very appropriate, as the butterfly
appears bright orange in flight, and is hyperactive, dashing
mischievously and incessantly around bushes at incredible speed.
spends a lot of time sitting under leaves, with wings outspread, ready
to pounce instantly on any small passing insect. When it spots another
Celaenorrhinus, or any other orange or
yellow skipper, it engages it in a ferocious high-speed aerial battle
that can last for several minutes. After each sortie the butterfly
nectars for a few moments, and then dashes back beneath another leaf,
instantly flipping upside down, and facing outwards ready for the next
visitor. A true master of high velocity aerobatics !
visit bird droppings, and sometimes feed at them for an hour or more
at a time. Both sexes regularly nectar at flowers, especially
favouring Ipomoea ( Convolvulaceae ).
They share with Pteroteinon skippers the
habit of crawling
deep inside the trumpet-like flowers to reach the nectar. They remain
there, sometimes 3 or 4 per flower, feeding avidly until the petals
close around them at dusk, providing a safe haven for the night. The
next day, at dawn, the flowers gradually reopen, and the butterflies
crawl out and fly away.