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Butterflies of Africa
Common Leopard
Phalanta phalantha  DRURY, 1773
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - HELICONIINAE
Tribe - VAGRANTINI
Phalanta phalantha  Menagasha forest, Ethiopia Peter Bruce-Jones
Introduction
The genus Phalanta comprises of 6 species, collectively known as the Leopards.
There are 4 species in the Afrotropical region - madagascariensis, which is endemic to Madagascar; philiberti, which is endemic to the Seychelles; eurytis, which is found across most of sub-Saharan Africa; and phalantha.
Phalanta phalantha is the commonest and most widespread member of the genus. It is distributed across sub-Saharan Africa from Gambia to Ethiopia, and south to South Africa and Madagascar. It is also found in s.w. Arabia, and eastward across tropical and subtropical Asia to China and Japan. It's range continues southward to include the Philippines and most of the south-east Asian islands.
Habitats
This is primarily a butterfly of Acacia thorn scrub and savannah / woodland habitats, but can also be found in clearings within rainforest. The migratory nature of the butterfly also takes it to coastal grasslands, city parks, gardens and many other habitats. It can be found at altitudes from sea level to at least 1500m.
Lifecycle
The larvae feed on several genera of Flacourtiaceae including Aberia, Dovyalis, Flacourtia, Oncoba, Scolopia, Trimeria and Xylosma. Other less commonly used foodplants include Ixora ( Rubiaceae ), Gymnosporia, Maytenus ( Celastraceae ), Petalostigma ( Euphorbiaceae ), Smilax ( Smilacaceae ), Viola ( Violaceae ), and Salix ( Salicaceae ).
Adult behaviour

The butterflies are usually seen in two's and three's, nectaring at Tridax, Eupatorium and other wild flowers. Males sometimes imbibe moisture from damp sand along riverbanks, but are more strongly attracted to patches of urine, and to dung, at which they sometimes gather in dozens.

 

 

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