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Butterflies of Africa
African Clouded Yellow
Colias electo   LINNAEUS, 1763
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Tribe -
Colias electo, Menagasha forest, Ethiopia  Peter Bruce-Jones
Introduction
Butterflies in the subfamily Coliadinae, commonly known as Brimstones, Sulphurs, Grass Yellows and Clouded Yellows, are found in all parts of the world, and total about 300 species.
There are 83 known Colias species worldwide, and the majority are migratory to some degree, e.g. the common Clouded Yellow crocea migrates each summer from north Africa to southern England, sometimes arriving in tens of thousands.
Only 4 Colias species occur in Africa - crocea - a Palaearctic species only found north of the Sahara desert; erate which is found in Ethiopia and Sudan; mukana - separated from electo by Berger in 1981, and found in Cameroon, Congo and Malawi; - and the illustrated species electo.
Colias electo is distributed from s.w. Arabia to Angola, Uganda and South Africa, with an additional isolated population in Cameroon.
Habitats
This is a montane species found at altitudes between about 1600-3000m.
Lifecycle
The larval foodplants include Vicia, Trifolium, Robinia and other Fabaceae.
Adult behaviour

Both sexes spend much of their time, especially in the mornings, basking on bare ground with their wings perpendicular to the sun's rays, trying to raise their body temperatures to the point where they are able to fly.

Once airborne, as with other montane Colias species across the world, the males fly very rapidly, just above ground level, dipping down periodically to investigate pale objects that might potentially be females. The latter are equally active, but spend their time searching for plants on which to lay their eggs. Both sexes regularly visit wild flowers, nectaring avidly at Fabaceae and Gentianaceae.

 

 

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