Butterflies of Africa
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - ADOLIADINI
Wli Falls, Ghana
© Adrian Hoskins
comprises of a yet to be discerned number of large and very
beautiful forest-dwelling butterflies, all found on the African
In 1997 Hecq
revised the genus and at that time
listed a total of 180 species. This figure is challenged by
other workers who believe that many of these are merely local forms
or subspecies. However in 2012 Hecq
produced a further revision of the eleus
species-group, describing an additional 12 species, bringing the
total in the genus to 192. When working in the field it is
immediately obvious that there are a huge number of specimens that
are noticeably dissimilar to any of the insects
illustrated by Hecq but it is unclear whether these are examples of
intra-specific variation, distinct taxa or hybrids.
share a common wing shape.
have a similar pattern on the upperside - typically the basal areas
of the wings ( particularly the hindwings ) have large
patches of metallic blue, green, orange or red.
species also have a cream or orange sub-apical bar. The undersides
are usually some shade of yellow or green, marked with black spots
and streaks that vary in intensity and configuration according to
taxon and locality. Many species also have beautiful pink patches or
streaks on the underside hindwings.
Euphaedra species are renowned for
their beauty, and harpalyce is one of
the most beautiful. Both sexes are similar in appearance, but the
females usually have a narrow yellowish sub-apical band on the
forewing. The closely related species eupalus
is identical to harpalyce on the upper
On the underside harpalyce is
bluish-green with a suffused dark transverse band, while
eupalus is pale olive with a series of
white post discal spots.
There are also several similar butterflies in the genus
phantasiella and maladicta,
but in all of these the outer margin of the forewings is very
Euphaedra harpalyce is distributed from
Guinea-Bissau to Uganda and western Kenya.
This species is common in
secondary forest as well as intact rainforest.
The larval foodplants include Allophylus,
Lecaniodiscus, Paullinia and
Phialodiscus, all in the family
Both sexes fly close to the ground,
elegantly weaving their way through the forest undergrowth. They do
not settle as frequently as other Euphaedra
species, but when they do, it is usually on a large leaf, and in full
sunshine. They are
attracted to clusters of fallen fruits, although again not as
frequently or in as great abundance as with other members of the
© Adrian Hoskins