Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
taxonomists consider the Libytheinae to be one of the most primitive
groups of butterflies, being probably the first to branch from the
Nymphalid evolutionary tree.
The Libytheinae contains only 13 species
worldwide. The 4 found in the Americas
carinenta which is found across much of
North and South America; and terena,
fulvescens all of which are found on islands in the Caribbean
were transferred in 1943 to a new genus
All of the Old
World Libytheinae are retained in
These include one species on Mauritius, one in
Africa, 2 on Madagascar, and one on the Marquesas isles in
Polynesia. One particularly successful species
celtis has an almost contiguous distribution from Portugal to
Libythea are characterised by having
dark uppersides marked with orange streaks and spots, and undersides
cryptically marbled in shades of brown. The angular fw apex is
another feature common to all the species. By far the most
characteristic feature however is the long "beak" formed by the
elongated labial palpi. The palpi are sensory organs used for the
detection of pheromones, and are far more prominent in Libytheines
than in any other group of butterflies.
There are 3 species
myrrha and narina, of which
myrrha is the commonest and most widespread, being found in
India, Sri Lanka, Assam, Burma, Thailand, West Malaysia, Sumatra,
Borneo and western China.
This species breeds in tropical and subtropical rainforest habitats
at moderate elevations - circa 200-1000m. It is sometimes seen along
roadsides, in quarries, or in village gardens.
The eggs are tall, barrel shaped, and laid on
Celtis tetranda or C. sinensis (
caterpillars are similar to those of Pierines, being green,
cylindrical, and covered in a layer of short fine setae. There is a
thin yellow line along the back of the abdominal segments, and
another fine yellow line along the sides.
chrysalis is similar to that of Satyrines - smooth, elongated, and
suspended by the cremaster without the use of a silk girdle.
Libythea myrrha hecura, Tapah
Hills, West Malaysia ©
Unlike the African
Libythea labdaca, which is migratory and
is often seen in vast swarms, myrrha is
almost always encountered as solitary individuals.
settle to imbibe dissolved minerals from damp silicaceous rocks and
stones in quarries or along forest roads. If disturbed they fly up and
settle on twigs, where they are perfectly disguised as dead leaves,
but they soon return to feed on the ground once the danger has passed.