Butterflies of Africa
Simple Liptena
Liptena simplicia  MÖSCHLER, 1887
subfamily - LIPTENINAE

Liptena simplicia, Bunso, 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 and alluaudi 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 there is a polka-dot pattern of creamy spots on a dark ground colour.
Liptena simplicia is found from Sierra Leone to western Nigeria. There are also unconfirmed records from Cameroon and Congo.
This species is locally common in closed canopy or secondary forest.
The larvae feed on algae growing on the bark of trees.
Adult behaviour

The adults spend long periods at rest sitting on thin dry twigs, typically between 0.5-1 metre above ground level, and usually in the company of other white Liptena or Larinopoda species. Both sexes feed at extrafloral nectaries.



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