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Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Shimmering Silverstreak
Iraota distanti  STAUDINGER, 1889
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
Tribe - THECLINI
subtribe - AMBLYPODIITI

Iraota distanti, Bukit Tapah, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
There are 6 members of the genus Iraota, all endemic to the Oriental region. The commonest and most widespread is timoleon which is distributed from India and Sri Lanka to China.
Iraota distanti is one of the rarest and most elusive members of the genus, confined to Thailand, West Malaysia and Sumatra.
The male has a deep purple sheen across the upper surface of the wings, and wide black borders. In females the sheen extends all the way to the margins, and is of a bluer hue. The underside of both sexes is ochreous, marked with about a dozen silvery white spots, each of which is edged with black. Both sexes possess a pair of short tails on each hindwing.
Habitats
This species is found in primary rainforest, at elevations between sea level and about 300m.
Lifecycle
The following lifecycle notes refer to the related species Iraota rochana, and may not necessarily be totally applicable to distanti :
The eggs are laid singly on stems or on the underside of leaves of Ficus ( Moraceae ). They are bright yellow, bun-shaped, and covered in a honeycomb of numerous small hexagonal pits.
The larvae are shaped like medicinal capsules but with the segments slightly corrugated. They are pale green in colour, and in some examples are marked with a suffused reddish band on the 5th abdominal segment.
The chrysalis is the usual plump and rounded Lycaenid shape, and is dark brown, heavily mottled and marbled with greyish. It is attached by the cremaster to a silk pad spun on a leaf or twig.
Adult behaviour
Both sexes of distanti are extremely elusive as they spend most of their lives at the tops of trees. Finding the adults involves visiting places where it is possible to look down on trees from above. Getting the photograph of the female depicted above necessitated climbing a steep dam wall, from where it was possible to overlook trees at the river's edge. The butterfly was basking on a leaf near the top of the tree, several feet from the spot where I balanced very precariously, holding a branch with one hand, while operating the camera with the other. If I had lost my grip or overbalanced I would have fallen onto the boulder-strewn riverbed 100 feet below me and would certainly have been killed. I do NOT advise anyone else to be quite so stupid !
 

 

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