Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - VAGRANTINI
Menagasha forest, Ethiopia
© Peter Bruce-Jones
Phalanta comprises of 6 species, collectively known as the
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.
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.
The larvae feed on several genera of Flacourtiaceae including
Xylosma. Other less commonly used foodplants include
Ixora ( Rubiaceae ),
Maytenus ( Celastraceae ), Petalostigma
( Euphorbiaceae ),
Smilax ( Smilacaceae ),
Viola ( Violaceae ), and
Salix ( Salicaceae ).
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.