Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - HESPERIIDAE
Potanthus omaha omaha,
Gopeng, West Malaysia ©
The Hesperiinae are a vast subfamily,
characterised by their wide heads, large eyes, thick bodies, and
their habit of basking with their forewings held at a 45° angle, and
hindwings held horizontally. The caterpillars of all species feed on
monocotyledons - grasses, palms, orchids etc.
There are about 400
Hesperiinae in the Oriental region, of which 182 have so far been
recorded from peninsular Malaysia. Among these there are dozens from
the genera Salanoemia,
Taractrocera, Potanthus and
Oriens which share a similar upperside
pattern of broad yellowish-orange streaks on a dark brown ground
colour. Distinguishing these genera, and the numerous species within
them, relies on close examination of the configuration of the
markings on both wing surfaces, and reference to text keys and
Potanthus comprises of about 40
species, many of which are so similar that identification is only
possible after dissecting and microscopically examining the
is the commonest member of the genus in peninsular Malaysia. It also
occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi,
Java and the Philippines.
This species is found in disturbed grassy
habitats at altitudes between sea level and about 200m.
Amazingly, for such
a common group of butterflies, virtually nothing is known about the
lifecycle of the Potanthus species. The
only species about which I have been able to find data regarding the
early stages are confucius and
serina, details of which are given
below, and are probably relevant to omaha
The larva of
confucius when fully grown is pale
translucent green, with a suffused dark green dorsal line, and a
dark brown head with chestnut cheek-stripes. It feeds on bamboo
Bambusa ( Poaceae ). It lives within a
shelter constructed by folding a leaf of the foodplant into a tube,
which is fastened with a few strands of silk. The chrysalis is
formed within the larval shelter. It is white and glossy, with a
yellowish thorax and pink eyes.
The egg of
serina is dome-shaped, smooth and
off-white in colour. It is laid singly on the leaves of whip-leaf
Flagellaria ( Flagellariaceae ). The
larva lives within a shelter much like that of
confucius, and when young is yellowish green, with a shiny
black head. When fully grown it is pale translucent green with a
faint suffused dark dorsal stripe, and a black head with broad
whitish cheek-stripes. The chrysalis is formed within the larval
shelter and is pale chestnut brown in colour.
Potanthus omaha is an active sun-loving
little butterfly which darts from flower to flower to seek nectar.
It normally basks in the characteristic Hesperiine posture, with the
forewings held at 45° and the hindwings in a horizontal plane.