Butterflies of Africa
Crimson-spotted Forester
Euphaedra themis  HÜBNER, 1807
Euphaedra themis, Bobiri forest, Ghana © Adrian Hoskins
The genus Euphaedra comprises of a yet to be discerned number of large and very beautiful forest-dwelling butterflies, all found on the African continent. 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.
All Euphaedra species share a common wing shape. Most have a similar pattern on the upperside - typically the basal areas of the wings ( particularly the hindwings ) have large suffused patches of metallic blue, green, orange or red. Most 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 including janetta and themis also have beautiful pink patches or streaks on the underside hindwings.
Euphaedra themis is found from Sierra Leone to Cameroon.
As with all Euphaedra species, this butterfly is an inhabitant of tropical rainforest, and is found at altitudes between sea level and about 1000m. Some species are confined to primary forest, but many including themis are equally abundant in degraded or secondary forest.

Euphaedra themis, Bobiri forest, Ghana © Adrian Hoskins

The larval foodplant is unknown, but is likely to be a member of either the Sapindaceae or possibly Sterculiaceae.
Adult behaviour

Both sexes fly close to the ground, elegantly weaving their way through the forest undergrowth. They do so with great adeptness, and are very graceful in flight. The butterflies are strongly attracted to fallen fruits, and will spend half an hour or longer feeding at them if undisturbed.




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