Butterflies of Africa
Mother of Pearl
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - JUNONIINI
© Peter Bruce-Jones
The 4 species which comprise the genus
Protogoniomorpha, i.e. cytora,
anacardii and temora were all
formerly included in the genus Salamis.
They are entirely African in distribution.
The upper surface
of the wings is greenish-white, with a mother-of-pearl sheen. When
seen in flight the butterfly is stunningly beautiful, with flashes
of pink, purple, yellow and green reflecting back as the angle of
the wings changes in relation to the sunlight.
This is a large butterfly with a wingspan of about 100mm as opposed
to the near-identical anacardii which
measures only about 80mm.
Protogoniomorpha parhassus is found
throughout the forested regions of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal
to South Africa and Madagascar.
This species is found in lowland forest habitats, including degraded
forest. It is a sun-loving species, usually seen along logging roads
and around the edges of small clearings.
The larval foodplants include Brilliantaisia,
Justicia ( Acanthaceae ).
butterflies are usually found singly, or in two's and three's.
Males perch on the lower foliage of
trees, or at the top of tall bushes, usually with their wings held
slightly apart. They swoop down to intercept and chase other passing
butterflies, indulging in a spectacular aerial battle, with their
shimmering mother-of-pearl iridescence glinting in the sunshine.
Both sexes go to roost in late afternoon,
in a head-downward posture, hanging beneath the leaves of bushes. In
this situation the leaf-like underside, complete with fake "midrib"
and "mould spots", provides them with excellent camouflage.
Bobiri, Ghana ©