Butterflies of Africa
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
© Adrian Hoskins
The Grass Yellows
are all fairly small butterflies, readily recognised by their bright
yellow wings and their habit of gathering in small groups on patches
of damp sand or soil. Despite their name, none of their caterpillars
feed on grasses - the name is derived from the fact that most
species are found in disturbed grassy habitats.
are among the most familiar of tropical butterflies.
There are 70
known species worldwide, of which 36 are found in the Neotropical
region, 13 in North America, 10 in Africa, 25 in the Oriental region
and 10 in Australia / Papua New Guinea. Many are migratory in
the ranges of several such as hecabe
overlap into in 2 or more of the zoogeographical regions.
Eurema hecabe is found across the
entire African continent, throughout most of Asia south of the
Himalayas, on most of the islands of the south Pacific, and across
much of Australia.
This species is highly migratory in behaviour and
consequently can be encountered in almost any habitat. It breeds
mainly in open or disturbed habitats including forest clearings,
along roadsides and riverbanks, and in parks and gardens. It can be
found from sea level and about 1000
© Adrian Hoskins
spindle-shaped eggs are straw coloured
when first laid, but
darker before hatching. They are laid singly on the upper
surface of leaves
of the foodplants. The pabulum
to the region and habitat and
Cassia, ( Caesalpiniaceae ),
Wagatea ( Fabaceae )
Pithecellobium ( Mimosaceae ).
The caterpillars when first hatched are
green, cylindrical, and covered in tiny tubercules from each of which
arises a single long stiff hair. In later instars
hairs become progressively shorter. The fully grown larva is dull
green with a thin dark dorsal stripe. There is a broader cream lateral
stripe below the spiracles. Each segment of the body is ribbed
vertically, and covered in small tubercules, giving it a rough
The pale green chrysalis is slim, sharply
pointed at head and tail, and with prominent wing cases.
Males congregate to
imbibe mineralised moisture
from damp sandbanks, often in scores.
Females are more
discreet in behaviour, normally being seen singly when nectaring.
They will visit many different flowers including
Lantana and various Asteraceae.