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Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Common Woodbrown
Lethe sidonis  HEWITSON, 1863
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
subtribe - LETHINA
Lethe sidonis  Darjeeling, India Haraprasan Nayak
Introduction
The genus Lethe is composed of 112 species, most of which are found in temperate forests in Asia, although there is one species endemic to Sulawesi, another endemic to Java. Several of the species are very localised, being confined to the forests of particular mountains, but others are widespread. The commonest and most widely distributed species is rohria, which is found from Afghanistan to China, and south to Java, Bali and Lombok.
Lethe species typically have sombre earthy brown uppersides, although a few such as europa have prominent white diagonal bands on their forewings; while others such as sinorix have a series of dark ocelli on the hindwings, set within a band of suffused orange. The undersides are usually more strongly marked than the upper surface, and the hindwings feature a series of 7 prominent ocelli, of which the first ( uppermost ) and fifth are usually the largest.
All Lethe species have a dense layer of fine bristles on their compound eyes. My observations of various species in Sri Lanka, Borneo and Malaysia indicate that the adults are strongly attracted to wet dung, and spend long periods probing into it. At these times their heads push deep into the dung. It seems possible therefore that the bristles may function in much the same way as a cat's whiskers, acting as tactile sensors to warn the butterfly if their heads get too close to the dung, which would blind them permanently if it stuck to the surface of the eyes.
Habitats
This species is found in forest edge habitats, at altitudes between about 1200-2200m.
Lifecycle
The larval foodplant of sidonis appears to be unknown. The range of plants used by other members of the genus is very wide, varying according to species. They are all monocotyledons, and include various grasses, sedges, canes, bamboos and rushes.
Adult behaviour

Males settle on rocks or on bare earth to imbibe mineralised moisture. Both sexes bask with wings fully outspread, on ferns, fallen leaves, mossy boulders etc.

 

 

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