Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Tribe - PIERINI
Weligaththa, Sri Lanka ©
There are about 225 described species in the
genus Delias. The butterflies are
popularly known as Jezebels. Most species are gaudily patterned in
red, yellow, black and white - the colours serving to advertise
their unpalateable nature to would-be predators.
Many of the species are highly localised, being
endemic to particular islands in south-east Asia, or restricted to
certain mountain ranges, e.g. in New Guinea. Others occupy much
broader ecological niches, and are more generally distributed.
Among the latter group are
hyparete which is
distributed from India to s.w. China, the Philippines, peninsular
Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Bali; and
eucharis which is
found in India, Burma and Sri Lanka.
D. eucharis and
are similar in appearance, but can be told apart by the black apical
band on the forewing. In hyparete the
band forms an arc, and terminates at the tornus. In
eucharis the lower half of the band
runs parallel to the outer margin, and terminates part way along the
inner margin. There are also differences in the red markings on the
underside hindwings - in hyparete these
fuse together to form a suffused band, but in
eucharis they are separated into distinct shield-shaped red
Delias eucharis is nomadic in
behaviour, and can be found in a wide variety of habitats including
temperate hill forest, tropical rainforest, dry open woodland and
beach hinterlands. It is a common species in flowery gardens, and
commonly visits flowering bushes in towns. The butterfly can be
found at altitudes between sea level and at least 1500m.
larval foodplant is mistletoe - Loranthus
( Loranthaceae ).
spend much of their lives high in the tree tops where their larval
grow as parasites on a variety of tree species. They can often be
seen flying from tree to tree on sunny mornings. Periodically
however both sexes will descend and embark on a "nectaring run",
fluttering swiftly from garden to garden, pausing here and there for
a moment to sip the nectar of Lantana
Verbenaceae ), Mentha ( Lamiaceae ),
and other flowers. When nectaring, the wings are usually kept
fluttering to support the weight of the butterfly.
© Anand Narkevar