Butterflies of the
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CYRESTINAE
Tribe - CYRESTINI
Ultapani, Assam, India ©
Mapwings and their small orange-winged relatives the
Chersonesia Maplets are noted for their
attractive patterns of fine lines and their short-tailed hindwings.
They are closely related to the Marpesia
Daggerwings of the neotropical region. Taxonomists differ regarding
the higher level taxonomy of these butterflies. Some workers
allocate them to the tribe Cyrestini which they include within the
subfamily Biblidinae. Others place them in their own subfamily
There are 25
Cyrestis species in total. Only two
occur on the Indian subcontinent - thyodamas
and cocles. The remainder are
distributed variously across s.e. Asia from Myanmar and the Andaman
islands to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon islands;
although there is a single species camilla,
found in Africa and Madagascar.
Cyrestis thyodamas occurs in India,
Myanmar, Thailand, China and Taiwan.
This is a common and widespread butterfly in
India, and is found in primary and secondary forest at elevations
between about 100-900m.
The larvae feed on the leaves of fig trees
Ficus ( Moraceae ).
Chilapata, West Bengal, India ©
The Common Mapwing
is usually encountered singly or in two's and three's, in open
forest edge habitats. Males are often seen on gravel roads or along
pebble-strewn river beaches, where they bask in full sunlight while
imbibing mineralised moisture. They are initially nervous and
difficult to approach but once they start imbibing they tend to
remain at the same spot for several minutes.
Females are seen
less often, but sometimes encountered along forest trails, or
nectaring at flowers in forest gardens.
habitually rest beneath leaves with their wings outspread. Less
commonly they will bask on the upper surface of large leaves, but
tend to only do so in areas of dappled sunlight.
Buxa, West Bengal, India ©