Common Palm Fly
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - ELYMNIINI
© Haraprasan Nayak
The genus Elymnias
comprises of 45 species - 37 in the Oriental region,
1 in Australia, 4 in Papua New Guinea
and 3 in Africa ( although the African species
are placed in another genus Elymniopsis
by some workers ).
On the upperside
the male is bluish black, with a series of large purplish or bluish
spots around the apex and wing margins. It is considered to be a
Batesian mimic of the Striped Blue Crow
Euploea mulciber - a Danaine which has been demonstrated to
be unpalateable to birds.
The female of subspecies
undularis from India and Sri Lanka has a large orange patch
on each wing, and is probably a mimic of the unpalateable Danaine,
the Common Tiger Danaus genutia.
On the underside
both sexes of all of the subspecies are brown, finely marbled with
reddish, and with a smudge of whitish scales near the apex of the
forewing. On the hindwing there is usually a white spot just beyond
the discal cell, but this varies in size from one individual to
another, and in some examples is entirely absent.
Elymnias hypermnestra occurs in India,
Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, South Vietnam, Thailand, West Malaysia,
Palawan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Bali.
This species occurs in primary and secondary
forest, oil palm (
Elaeis guineensis ) plantations, and
parks, at elevations between sea level and about 800 metres.
The egg is pale green, spherical and covered in
small pits or indentations. It is laid singly on the leaves of palms
( Arecaceae )
Livistona chinensis, Elaeis guineensis,
Licuala chinensis, Calamus rotang,
Calamus pseudo-tenuis, Calamus
thwaitesii, Phoenix lourerii and
when fully grown is bright green, with a pair of prominent yellow
lines along the back, and finer lines on the sides. It's head is
pinkish-brown and ornamented with a pair of short curved horns, and
the tail bears a pair of similarly coloured long caudal prongs. It
is crepuscular in behaviour - feeding at dawn and dusk.
The chrysalis is
extremely pretty, being emerald green and marked with yellow-edged
bright red streaks and dashes along the back, thorax and the dorsal
edge of the wing cases. It is suspended by the cremaster from a silk
pad, beneath a leaf or stem of the foodplant.
In India and Sri Lanka I have often seen this
species flying on hot sunny afternoons, but in Malaya and Borneo it
tends to only be active very early in the day, or in overcast
Satyrines ( which usually to fly close to the ground ), the
tend to fly around the top of bushes or the lower branches of trees.
They have a delicate slow flight - a mixture of fluttering and
gliding, and when they land they invariably settle on a leaf, high
up in a bush, and usually beyond camera reach. At all times
they are nervous and very alert, and at the slightest disturbance
will immediately take flight, only to resettle on another high leaf,
usually somewhere even less accessible to the photographer !