Butterflies of Africa
Volta Ciliate Blue
Family - LYCAENIDAE
Tribe - LYCAENESTHINI
Bobiri forest, Ghana
© Adrian Hoskins
The genus Cupidesthes
comprises of about 20 species, which are very closely related to
Anthene, and share with them the
characteristic of having 3 short thin tails on the hindwings. Both
genera are known colloquially as Ciliate Blues.
are entirely Afrotropical in distribution.
The male of
Cupidesthes lithas is dark brown, with
a strong violet sheen across the hindwings and the along the lower
edge of the forewings. The female is usually white above, except for
the costa, outer margins and apex, all of which are blackish. In a
high percentage of some populations the females are entirely brown
above, probably due to the periodic resurgence of a recessive gene.
Cupidesthes lithas is found from Sierra
Leone to Gabon and Congo.
This is a rainforest species found at altitudes
between about 100-800m.
The lifecycle of
lithas is unknown. A related species
C. arescopa is recorded as laying it's
eggs in heaps on Thea ( Theaceae ) in
Kenya. The eggs were coated with hairs from the female's anal tuft,
and these hairs were eaten by the newly hatched caterpillars.
Males are usually
seen singly, sitting quietly on a "sunspot" - typically a leaf at
the top of a bush, lit by dappled sunlight filtering through the
forest canopy. Females are encountered far less commonly but can
occasionally be found fluttering around in shady areas of the