Butterflies of Africa
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - JUNONIINI
season form, Aburi, Ghana
© Adrian Hoskins
Precis is closely allied to
Junonia and includes several species
that were formerly placed within that genus. The 2 genera differ
however in genitalia structure and foodplant choice.
There are 20
currently recognised Precis species of
which 14 are found exclusively on the African mainland. A further 2
are endemic to Madagascar. The remaining 3 are found in south-east
Precis octavia is seasonally dimorphic,
i.e. it produces 2 different forms according to season. The dry
season form is illustrated above. The wet season form had a dark
brown ground colour, and is marked with narrow broken bands of blue
and red. During the transitional period between the seasons both
forms fly together, but intermediate forms are very rare.
The Gaudy Commodore
is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
octavia, wet season
form, Aburi, Ghana
The true homes of this species are savannah, acacia scrub, and open
woodland, but the butterfly has adapted to be able to use a range of
additional habitats including secondary forest, arboreta, botanical
gardens and wasteland.
The larvae feed on various genera of Lamiaceae including
common with other Precis ( and
Junonia ) species, the butterflies avidly
nectar at wild flowers, and can often be seen in abundance in
sheltered areas of flowery grassland. They generally keep their wings
erect, or half-open while nectaring, but bask with wings fully
outspread when sitting on the ground, or on low foliage.