Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CYRESTINAE
Tribe - CYRESTINI
cocles earli f.
Bukit Tapah, West Malaysia ©
The Mapwings, together with their relatives in
Chersonesia are medium sized
butterflies noted for their attractive patterns of fine lines, and
Cyrestis comprises of 25 species, of
which 17 occur in the Oriental region. Only 4 occur in West Malaysia
- themire, cocles,
maenalis. An additional species
theresae occurs on Sumatra and Borneo, while the remainder
are found variously from India to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon
islands; except for a single species camilla,
found in Africa and Madagascar.
Cyrestis cocles is distributed from
Sikkim in India, to Myanmar, Thailand, West Malaysia, Sabah,
Sarawak, Brunei, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, but is absent from Sumatra
The butterfly is
seasonally dimorphic - the wet season morph f.
formosa is illustrated above. The dry season morph f.
earli has a very pale creamy white
ground colour, patterned with very fine orange-brown striations. In
both forms the male and female are similar, although the female is a
little paler and has slightly more rounded wings.
Cyrestis themire is very similar to the
formosa morph of
cocles, but more heavily marked.
Cyrestis cocles is
the rarest member of the genus in Malaysia. It is found in primary
and secondary forest at elevations between sea level and about 800
metres, and normally encountered along wide forest trails, or in
quarries or other cleared areas, often close to human habitations.
The early stages of cocles
appear to be unrecorded. Corbet & Pendlebury state that the
related Cyrestis themire has been bred
on Streblus ilicifolius ( Moraceae ),
and that the foodplants of other Cyrestis
species include Tetracera sarmentosa
Both sexes have a
gentle but deceptively rapid gliding flight. They will venture out
of the forest to bask on gravel roads on overcast days, but in sunny
weather usually remain in the shade.
Males can sometimes
be found at moist spots in forest edge habitats, e.g. in May 2009 at
Tapah Hills in West Malaysia I watched a group of 5 males imbibing
moisture from damp gravel in the shade beside an Orang Asli
dwelling. Usually only 2 or 3 of the butterflies would be on the
ground at any moment, while the others hid under nearby foliage,
with wings fully outspread. Periodically one of these would flutter
down, glide in a low tight circle, and settle to feed, which
prompted one or more of the males already on the ground to fly up
and settle under a leaf of the same bush.