Butterflies of West
Lesser Blue Charaxes
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Tribe - CHARAXINI
Charaxes numenes, 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 habitats.
Charaxes species are black on the
upperside, with bands of either white, orange or blue. The bands in
some species are very broad, while in others they are narrow and
broken into a series of small spots. Many
Charaxes species have a pair of thin tails at the tornus of
Charaxes numenes is
distributed throughout the African forest block from Senegal to
southern Sudan, Ethiopia and south to western Kenya and north-west
is found in primary and secondary rainforests but is quite tolerant
of habitat degradation, extending its range into riverine forest in
scrub / savannah habitats.
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
( Linaceae ), Grewia (
Tiliaceae ), Allophylus,
Phialodiscus (Sapindaceae ) and
Erythrina ( Fabaceae ).
Males are usually encountered singly when
feeding at dung or fermenting fruit on the forest floor.