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Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Dark Evening Brown
Melanitis phedima  CRAMER, 1780
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - MELANITINI
Melanitis phedima, dry season form, Chilapata, West Bengal, India   Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The genus Melanitis comprises of 12 species, commonly known as Evening Browns due to their preference for flying after dark.
All Melanitis species exhibit pronounced seasonal dimorphism. The wet season morphs are strongly variegated and have prominent ocelli. The dry season morphs have reduced ocelli and are subject to considerable variation in colour and pattern. Some examples of phedima are plain greyish-brown or reddish brown and virtually unmarked except for a dark blotch at the end of the discal cell on the hindwing, while others are strongly variegated to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to believe they are the same species. Identification from the underside alone is unreliable - phedima can only be reliably identified from the dorsal surface, which is much darker than in leda and has no trace of the orange flush that is found in that species.
Melanitis phedima is found in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi.
Melanitis phedima, dry season form, Chilapata, West Bengal, India   Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
This species occurs in degraded forest, plantations, orchards and gardens at altitudes from 0-800m.
Lifecycle
The larval foodplants include the grasses Miscanthus, Isachne, Setaria, Brachyaria, Microstegium, Apluda, Capillipedium, Coix, Cyrtococcum, Eleusine, Oplismenus, Saccarum, Paspalum, Panicum, Stenotaphrum, Imperata, Zea, Sorghum, Ischaemum, Andropogon, Cymbopogon, Pennisetum and Bambusa ( Poaceae ).
Adult behaviour

The butterflies are normally found singly, when disturbed from their resting places in the forest undergrowth. They fly mainly at dawn, and again in the early part of the evening.

Melanitis phedima, dry season form, Chilapata, West Bengal, India   Adrian Hoskins

 

 

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