Butterflies of Africa
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
The Sailors, or Gliders as they are sometimes
called, are all members of the genus Neptis
- a large and confusing group of butterflies found across much of
the world, excluding the Americas. They are noted for characteristic
sailing flight, and their shared theme of white spots and bars on a
Neptis comprises of about 170 species,
at least 65 occur
40+ in the Palaearctic region ( Europe, and Asia north of the
Himalayas ), 6 in Australasia, and about 50 in the Oriental region.
Distinguishing the species involves careful study of the
configuration of the white spots, bars and submarginal lines on both
Neptis serena is
found from Gambia and Senegal to Ethiopia, and south to
Zimbabwe, Zambia and northern Botswana.
This is a forest edge species, found in riparian
forest, dry open woodland, and savannah / forest mosaics, at
altitudes between sea level and about 1400m.
Neptis species the egg is placed at the
very tip of a leaf of the foodplant, on the upper surface. It is
pale green, globular, and covered in a network of hexagonal ridges
from which arise 100 or more tiny spikes, giving it the appearance
of a tiny sea urchin. The caterpillar spends it's early instars
hiding in a curled up dead leaf from which it will periodically
venture out to feed.
This butterfly has
a very graceful flight, riding on thermals, with periods of gliding
punctuated by occasional sharp wing beats. The Sailors fly with
meticulous precision, weaving in and out through the foliage and
branches of trees and bushes.
periodically alight to bask on foliage, with their wings fully
outspread. Males can also be seen perching on foliage with their
wings erect but held slightly apart.