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Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Chocolate Soldier
Junonia iphita  CRAMER, 1779
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - JUNONIINI
Junonia iphita horsfieldi, Gopeng, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The genera Junonia and Precis are superficially very similar, but the genitalia differ consistently, as do the larval foodplants. These are Lamiaceae in the solely African genus Precis, and Acanthaceae in Junonia. The latter genus is more widely distributed, and includes the Pansy butterflies of Africa, the Buckeyes of Central America and the USA, and the Soldiers and Commodores of the Oriental and Australian regions.
Using the above definitions, Junonia comprises about 33 species, of which 11 occur in the Oriental region. Of these, 7 are found in West Malaysia and Borneo - iphita, hedonia, atlites, orithya, hierta, almana and lemonias.
Junonia iphita the most sombrely coloured of these species, and also one of the commonest and most widespread. It is found from Sri Lanka and India to China, and through the Malay archipelago to Bali and the Lesser Sunda Isles.
Both sexes are very similar in appearance, but the female has slightly broader and more rounded wings. On the underside the wings are pale brown with a dark stripe, and look like a dead leaf.
This species is very similar to its close relative hedonia but the latter has a richer chocolate brown ground colour.
Habitats
Junonia iphita is found mainly in degraded and disturbed forest habitats including palm plantations, small clearings, and along roadsides and riverbanks at elevations between sea level and at least 1200m. It also occurs in primary rainforest and temperate evergreen and deciduous forests.
Lifecycle
The eggs are pale green with 14 prominent vertical ribs, and are laid singly either on the foodplant or on nearby twigs or dead leaves.
The larva when fully grown is dull dark brown, and adorned with rows of multi-branched spikes along the back and sides. It feeds on a wide range of plants in the Acanthaceae including Justicia, Hygrophila, Lepidagathis, Asteracantha, Goldfussia and Strobilanthes.
The chrysalis is dull brown with rows of tubercules along the back and sides. It is suspended by the cremaster from a leaf or twig.
Adult behaviour
Both sexes are low flying, and spend long periods basking on herbage or on the ground. They are relatively easy to approach, and rarely fly far if disturbed. When not basking they tend to sit on the leaves of bushes or saplings, where they often remain motionless for several minutes even in hot sunny weather.
 

 

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