Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Lesser Dart
Potanthus omaha  EDWARDS, 1863
subfamily - HESPERIINAE
Potanthus omaha omaha, Gopeng, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
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, Telicota, 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 diagrams.
The genus Potanthus comprises of about 40 species, many of which are so similar that identification is only possible after dissecting and microscopically examining the genitalia.
Potanthus omaha 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.
Adult behaviour
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.

Potanthus omaha,   Adrian Hoskins



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