Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CYRESTINAE
Tribe - CYRESTINI
male, Taman Negara, West Malaysia ©
tiny Maplet butterflies are amongst the most delightful and
interesting rainforest species found in Malaysia, delicately marked
with fine wavy lines on a bright orange ground colour.
There are 7 members of the genus Chersonesia,
all endemic to the Oriental region. They are very closely related to
the Cyrestis Mapwings, as can be seen
by comparing Chersonesia rahria with
the much larger but otherwise virtually identical
Both sexes of
rahria are similarly patterned, but the
female is slightly paler, with broader and more rounded wings. The
pattern is repeated on the underside of the wings in more subtle
Chersonesia rahria, in common with most
other members of it's genus is widespread throughout the Oriental
region, being found in West Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Palawan
Taman Negara, West Malaysia ©
species breeds in primary rainforest at elevations between 0-800m.
At higher altitudes it is gradually replaced by
C. risa, in which the outer lines on
the forewings are straight rather than wavy.
yellowish-green egg is dome-shaped with eleven prominent vertical
ridges. It is laid singly at the edge of a leaf of the climbing fig
Ficus aurantiacea ( and probably other
Ficus species ).
Prior to hatching
the larva nibbles an almost complete circular channel out of the
upper part of the eggshell, thereby creating a trapdoor which it
pushes up and out of the way as it emerges.
When small the
larva rests on the underside of a leaf, at the tip. It nibbles
chunks from either side, and sits on the remaining projecting
midrib, pointing inwards, using it as a retreat. At this stage of
its life it often decorates its body with its own droppings,
possibly because the acrid smell deters ants or parasitoid wasps.
When older the
larva has a habit of biting part way through the midrib. The most
likely explanation for this is that the sap contains toxins, and
that severing the 'artery' prevents these from reaching the part
which the caterpillar chooses to eat.
The fully grown
larva is pale green with oblique stripes of darker green. It is
described by Corbet & Pendlebury as being cylindrical and
smooth-skinned, "with a pair of long filamentous processes on the
2nd and 8th abdominal segments, the former curved backwards, and the
latter forwards, and both serrated on the posterior edge". The brown
head also bears a pair of recurved horns.
The brown chrysalis
resembles a small dead leaf. Like the larva, it has a pair of curved
horns on the head. There is a small thorn-like projection on the
thorax, and a dorsal keel projecting from the abdomen. It is
suspended by the cremaster from a leaf or twig.
Chersonesia Maplets are dainty little
butterflies which flit regularly from spot to spot, but never stray
far from their favoured places. They will often perch momentarily on
the underside of a leaf before fluttering daintily to another leaf
nearby, on which they settle with wings fully outspread and held
flat against the surface. At other times they like to land on the
ground, usually on wet leaf litter, and will spend long periods
probing among the rotting vegetation, at all times keeping their
The butterflies are
commonest in the wet season, and will fly in light rain, although
they are much more active in hot sunny weather conditions, at which
time they can be found in wet parts of the forest, flying in places
where dappled sunlight filters through the trees.
I have never seen
either sex visit flowers - both sexes seem to obtain their
sustenance either from mineralised moisture on the ground, or from
aphid secretions ( and possibly bird droppings ) on the surface of
leaves. It is notable however that the closely related
Cyrestis Mapwings often visit fungi,
and while I have never seen them doing so,
Chersonesia are quite likely to behave similarly.
butterflies which roost with their wings held erect, Maplets hide
overnight or on rainy days beneath leaves, with their wings fully
outspread - another feature they share with their relatives in the