Butterflies of Africa
Pallid Liptena
Liptena albicans  CATOR, 1904
subfamily - LIPTENINAE
Liptena albicans, Bobiri, Ghana Adrian Hoskins
The Lipteninae are wholly African in distribution, and comprise of about 600 species, varying from the tiny creamy yellow Liptena pearmani to the dazzling metallic blue Epitola posthumus - a species which with a wingspan of 65mm, is massive by Lycaenidae standards.
The Lipteninae are fascinating because of their association with "ant trees", i.e. trees which support colonies of Crematogaster ants. As with most other Lycaenidae species, the caterpillars of Liptenids have ants in almost constant attendance. The ants "milk" a sugary substance from a gland on the caterpillar's back, and in return for this reward the caterpillar benefits because the presence of the aggressive ants deters other insects such as wasps and flies that would otherwise attack them.
Liptena comprises of 65 species, all of similar size ( circa 35mm wingspan ), but varying in colour from pure white to yellow, orange or black. Some species such as xanthostola have only very feint markings. Others such as ferrymani are strongly patterned with dark wavy lines. A few including eukrinaria and similis are patterned with black spots on a pale ground colour; while in others such as helena and modesta there is a polka-dot pattern of creamy spots on a dark ground colour.
Liptena albicans is a west African species, found from Sierra Leone to Ghana.
This species is found in good quality rainforest, at altitudes up to about 400m.
The larvae feed on algae growing on the bark of trees.
Adult behaviour

The adults spend long periods at rest sitting on tendrils or thin twigs, typically between 2-4 metres above ground level. Both sexes feed at extrafloral nectaries.



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