Butterflies of Africa
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Tribe - PIERINI
© Adrian Hoskins
There are 8 species
in the genus Leptosia, of which 7 are
restricted to forested areas of Africa and ( in the case of
alcesta and nupta
), Madagascar. There is only one species found outside of Africa,
namely nina, which occurs from the
Indian subcontinent to the islands of south-east Asia.
Leptosia alcesta is found across the
whole of sub-Saharan Africa including Madagascar.
This is found in primary and degraded forest, at
altitudes between about 100-600m.
eggs are spindle-shaped, ribbed, pale green in
colour, and laid singly on young terminal leaves of the foodplants.
caterpillar is green, glaucous and covered in short setae. It feeds
on various members of the Capparidaceae, primarily
The chrysalis is
shaped like that of Eurema and
Gonepteryx. It has a buff or pale brown
thorax and abdomen, and pinkish wing cases. It is suspended from the
underside of a leaf, attached by the cremaster and secured with a
thin silken girdle.
Although they are
only distantly related, the flight and general behaviour of the
butterfly is strongly reminiscent of that of the European
Leptidea Wood Whites ( subfamily
Dismorphiinae ). The flight is feeble and erratic, but the
butterflies spend long periods without settling. Their bodies bob up
and down as they slowly flutter low over the grasses, hence the
popular name Flip Flop.
The butterflies are
active mainly in early morning sunshine, and sometimes again in late
afternoon if it is overcast. They hide away in the undergrowth in
the heat of the midday sun.
Both sexes commonly
visit white flowers for nectar.
© Peter Bygate