Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Chocolate Soldier
Junonia iphita  CRAMER, 1779
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Junonia iphita Ultapani, Assam, India  Adrian Hoskins
The genera Junonia and Precis are superficially very similar, but the genitalia differ consistently, as do the larval foodplants. These are Lamiaceae in the solely African genus Precis, and Acanthaceae in Junonia. The latter genus is more widely distributed, and includes the Pansy butterflies of Africa, the Buckeyes of Central America and the USA, and the Soldiers and Commodores of the Oriental and Australian regions.
Using the above definitions, Junonia comprises about 33 species, of which 11 occur in the Oriental region.
Junonia iphita the most sombrely coloured of these species, and also one of the commonest and most widespread. It is found from Sri Lanka and India to China, and through the Malay archipelago to Bali and the Lesser Sunda Isles.
Both sexes are very similar in appearance, but the female has slightly broader and more rounded wings. On the underside the wings are pale brown with a dark stripe, and look like a dead leaf.

Junonia iphita Buxa, West Bengal, India   Adrian Hoskins

Junonia iphita is found mainly in degraded and disturbed forest habitats including palm plantations, small clearings, and along roadsides and riverbanks at elevations between about 0-1200m.
The eggs is pale green with 14 prominent vertical ribs, and is laid singly either on the foodplant or on nearby twigs or dead leaves. The larva when fully grown is dull dark brown, and adorned with rows of multi-branched spikes along the back and sides. It feeds on a wide range of Acanathaceae including Justicia, Hygrophila, Lepidagathis, Asteracantha, Goldfussia and Strobilanthes. The pupa is dull brown with rows of tubercules along the back and sides. It is suspended by the cremaster from a leaf or twig.
Adult behaviour

Both sexes are low flying, and spend long periods basking on herbage or on the ground. They are relatively easy to approach, and rarely fly far if disturbed. When not basking they tend to sit on the leaves of bushes or saplings, where they often remain motionless for several minutes even in hot sunny weather.


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