Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Nechisar NP, Ethiopia
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 black background.
Neptis comprises of about 170
species, of which
at least 65
occur in Africa,
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 wing surfaces.
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
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.