Butterflies of the
Family - HESPERIIDAE
Potanthus omaha Chilapata, West Bengal,
India © Adrian
The Hesperiinae are a vast subfamily,
characterised by their wide heads, large eyes, thick bodies, and
their habit of basking with their forewings held at a 45° angle, and
hindwings held horizontally. The caterpillars of all species feed on
monocotyledons - grasses, palms, orchids etc.
There are about 400
Hesperiinae in the Oriental region. Among these there are dozens
from the genera Salanoemia,
Taractrocera, Potanthus and
Oriens which share a similar upperside
pattern of broad yellowish-orange streaks on a dark brown ground
colour. Distinguishing these genera, and the numerous species within
them, relies on close examination of the configuration of the
markings on both wing surfaces, and reference to text keys and
Potanthus comprises of about 40
species, many of which are so similar that identification is only
possible after dissecting and microscopically examining the
is a common species which is found in India, Myanmar, Laos,
Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, the Philippines,
Sulawesi and Java.
Potanthus omaha Manas, Assam, India ©
This species is found in disturbed grassy
habitats at altitudes between sea level and about 400m.
The larva is pale
translucent green, with a suffused dark green dorsal line, and a
dark brown head. It feeds on bamboo Bambusa
( Poaceae ), and lives within a shelter constructed by folding a
leaf of the foodplant into a tube, which is fastened with a few
strands of silk. The chrysalis is formed within the larval shelter.
Potanthus omaha is an active sun-loving
little butterfly which darts from flower to flower to seek nectar.
It normally basks in the characteristic Hesperiine posture, with the
forewings held at 45° and the hindwings in a horizontal plane.