15 April 2010

Cape Autumn Widow

Flying around the Common now are lots of pretty brown butterflies. These are Cape Autumn Widows (Dira clytus) that are related to the Table Mountain Beauty. They are known as browns and belong to the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Satyrinae. The underside of the wing in most browns is cryptically coloured and eyespots are common. Foodplants are grasses and sedges.
Cape Autumn Widow butterflies fly slowly just above grass, often settling on bare patches of ground. The females scatter eggs in flight. The larvae are well camouflaged and feed on various grasses. Their preferred habitat is grassy areas on mountain slopes and lower ground.
Information from Field guide to insects of South Africa by Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths and Alan Weaving, Struik.