Butterflies of the
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - JUNONIINI
Ultapani, Assam, India ©
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.
iphita Buxa, West Bengal, India
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.
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,
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.
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