Butterflies of West
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Tribe - CHARAXINI
Charaxes etheocles, male, Bobiri Forest, Ghana
© Peter Bygate
The Charaxinae are a group of robust, medium to
large Nymphalids characterised by having a rapid and powerful
flight, stout bodies, falcate apexes, and a habit of feeding at dung
and carrion. They are represented in the neotropics by genera
Memphis, Prepona and
Agrias; in the Oriental and Australian
regions by Polyura and
Charaxes, and in Africa by
Euxanthe and Palla.
There are 179 Charaxes
species in the Afrotropical region, one of which -
jasius, extends its range as far north as the Mediterranean
coast of Europe. Most are forest-dwellers but several are adapted to
savannah and arid Acacia thorn scrub
Charaxes species are black on the
upperside, with bands of either white, orange or blue. The
etheocles group however are almost
entirely black above, and virtually devoid of markings. There are
between 15-20 species in the group but the taxonomy is confused, as
there is great similarity between the species.
is a common species, found throughout the African forest block from
Senegal to southern Sudan, Ethiopia and south to western Tanzania
and northern Zambia.
is found in primary and secondary rainforests but is quite tolerant
of habitat degradation.
As with other Charaxes species, the egg
is barrel-shaped and carries a series of ridges and keels around the
upper part. It is laid singly on leaves of the foodplant. The
caterpillar feeds on
Dalbergia, Entada and
Griffonia ( Fabaceae ), and occasionally
on Scutia ( Rhamnaceae ) and
Celtis ( Ulmaceae ).
Males are usually encountered singly when
feeding at dung or fermenting fruit on the forest floor.