Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Pallid Nawab
Polyura arja  FELDER & FELDER, 1867
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Polyura arja, West Sikkim, India  Adrian Hoskins
There are 24 species in the genus Polyura, most of which are found in the Oriental region, although one species posidonius is restricted to Tibet and west China. Additionally there are 6 or 7 species endemic to various islands, e.g. andrewsi from Christmas Island and caphontis from Fiji; and one, pyrrhus, which reaches Queensland in Australia.
The butterflies are characterised by their distinctive wing shape with twin tails on the hindwings, a feature shared with Charaxes, within which Polyura is included by some workers. Polyura species generally have dark brown uppersides, with bands of creamy white which vary in size and shape according to species. These bands are repeated on the underside, usually in a beautiful shade of pale green. In a few species such as delphis the underside is almost entirely white.
There are 8 species occuring in India - athamas, arja, schreiber, moori, narcaeus, delphis, dolon and eudamippus.
Polyura arja is found in India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and China.
This species is found in forested areas at elevations between about 500-2000m.
I have no data for arja. The following description of the lifecycle of athamas is probably applicable: The egg is spherical, shiny and yellow. It is laid on the underside of leaves of the foodplants. The larva when fully grown is dark green with 3 prominent white diagonal stripes, and several thinner stripes, all of which converge on the back to form a series of V shapes. It has a large head with a flat face, adorned with a crown of 4 impressive long horns. It feeds nocturnally on the foliage of various trees and shrubs including Albizia, Acacia, Abarema, Adenanthera, Delonix, Peltophorum and Leucaena ( Fabaceae ), Grewia ( Malvaceae ), and Caesalpinia ( Caesalpinaceae ). The plump rounded pupa is green, streaked with white on the abdomen and wing cases. It is attached by a stout pedunculate cremaster to a twig or stem on or near the foodplant.
Adult behaviour

Males are common and normally 2 or 3 are seen in fairly close proximity, imbibing moisture from damp sand in the vicinity of rivers. They also feed at mammalian dung, and on carrion such as the frog corpse in the illustration below. When feeding the butterflies are almost oblivious of humans. If they are deliberately disturbed they fly up to settle on tree foliage nearby, but return as soon as they sense danger has passed. The flight is very rapid and powerful.

Polyura arja, Kalejnada, West Sikkim, India  Adrian Hoskins


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