Friday, February 22, 2013

Common Leopard Butterfly

The Common Leopard Phalanta phalantha is a sun-loving butterfly of the Nymphalid or Brush-footed Butterfly family.

        The Common Leopard is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 50–55 mm with a tawny colour and marked with black spots. The underside of the butterfly is more glossy than the upper and both the male and female are similar looking. A more prominent purple gloss on the underside is found in the dry season form of this butterfly.




Distribution and subspecies

The butterfly is found in Sub-saharan Africa and Southern Asia (including Sri Lanka and Burma) in a number of subspecies.
  • Phalanta phalantha phalantha
  • Phalanta phalantha luzonica Fruhstofer (Philippines)
  • Phalanta phalantha columbina (Cramer) (southern China, Hainan and possibly Taiwan)
  • Phalanta phalantha araca (Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914) (Darwin)
  • Phalanta phalantha aethiopica (Rothschild & Jordan, 1903) (Madagascar, Seychelles, Aldabra, Comoro, Tropical Africa)
  • Phalanta phalantha granti (Rothschild & Jordan, 1903) (Socotra Island)

A caterpillar on its second instar beside a pupa.


The Caterpillar on its last instar.


Sun loving and avoids shade. Seen in the plains, gardens and edges of clearings. Has active and sharp flight movements. Visits flowers regularly especially Lantana, Duranta, Meyenia laxiflora, Gymnosporia montana and thistles. Often seen mudpuddling from damp patches in the ground, either alone or in groups. A regular basker with wings spread wide open. It is commonest in dry areas and dry weather and absent from the wetter parts of India during the monsoon. It often perches on edges of clearing with wings half open and has the habit of chasing away other butterflies and guarding its territory.               

    An adult Common Leopard

Larval host plant

        This is the hostplant of  Common Leopard Butterfly Larva. It  is locally called Serralis. A very delicious wild plum and there's plenty of this around Pueblo de Panay forest. I took this picture last February 18, 2013 while on the way home. This fruit attracts many wild animals such as birds, reptiles and some mammals.

A small to medium-sized tree and the ripe fruits are very tasty, reminiscent of a small apple and sometimes tastes like grapes.
It is a usually found in dry types of woodland and it grows to 6 m tall. In moister types of open woodland it reaches its maximum height  of about 8–9 metres. It is a rather straggly tree, with sharp, 3–6 cm long branched spines in from the stem down to the trunk. Buds at the base of the spine produce clusters of alternately arranged simple ovate leaves 3–6 cm long.
The flowers are inconspicuous, solitary or clustered, with no petals. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, though some female plants are parthenogenetic.
The fruit is an edible bright yellowish to purple globose berry 2.5–4 cm diameter, with the skin and flesh of a uniform colour and containing several small seeds. Production is often copious, weighing down the branches during the summer. They are juicy, tasty and acidic.

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