|Copyright: vijeesh babu (vijeeshbabu)
|Date Taken: 2011-05-15|
|Camera: sony DSC W110|
|Exposure: f/2.8, 1/160 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2011-07-24 22:21|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
Species: T. nyseus
The Red Pierrot (Talicada nyseus) is a small but striking butterfly found in South Asia and South-East Asia belonging to the Lycaenids or Blues family. Red Pierrots, flying weakly around and perching on the Kalanchoe plant, are usually noticed by excited children in gardens due to their beautiful striking patterns and colours.
The butterfly with a wing span of 3 to 3.5 cm. The upper side of its wings are black except for a large portion of the lower edge of the hind wing which is orange. On the underside, the forewing is white with black spots more toward the margin. The hind wing is very striking, it is white with black spots toward the base and the margin has a wide band of orange with white spots. There is a lot of variation found in the blacks spots on the hind wings.
Males and females. Upperside: black or brownish black, in fresh specimens in certain lights with a dull purplish flush. Fore wing: uniform, with a very slender thread-like edging of white to the costa. Hindwing: a large conspicuous orange-red patch on the posterior terminal half of the wing between the dorsum and vein 7; this patch does not extend quite to the termen but leaves a narrow edging of the black ground-colour which is produced inwards in short conical projections in interspaces 2 to 5. Cilia of both fore and hind wings chequered with black and white alternately. Underside: silvery white. Forewing: a quadrate spot on the discocellulars, a broad transverse discal band and the terminal third of the wing jet-black; the discal band is irregular, dislocated on vein 3, the posterior portion shifted inwards and joined on to the black area on the posterior terminal third of the wing by projections of black on the dorsum, along veins 3 and between veins 4 and 5; the black area on terminal third of the wing encloses a transverse postdiscal series of small round and a subterminal transversely near series of spots of the white ground-colour. Hind wing: two spots near base, a subbasal transverse series of three spots, a medial similar series of four somewhat elongate spots and a transverse short postdiscal bar between veins 4 and 6, jet-black ; terminal third of the wing above vein 7 jet-black, below that vein deep orange-red, the whole area (both the black and the red) medially traversed by a transverse curved series of round spots of the white ground-colour and margined outwardly by a series of transverse, very short and very slender lines of the same in the interspaces; anticiliary line black. Cilia of both fore and hind wings chequered as on the upperside; a short filamentous tail at apex of vein 2 black, tipped white. Antennae, head, thorax and abdomen black, shafts of the antennae ringed with white ; beneath: palpi, thorax and abdomen while.
—Bingham, C. T., 1907
The Red Pierrot is a weak flier, and flutters about close to the ground. It flies in short bursts and settles often but not for very long. It basks with its wings half open, but prefers shade to sun and jungle or undergrowth to open areas. It keeps on the wing almost till dark when it settles on the undersides of leafs and twigs often in company. It is sluggish early in the morning and late in the evening. It visits flowers of herbs especially of the amaranthaceae and acanthaceae family for nectar. It visits both ornamental and wild flowers and varieties of Alternanthera are among its favourite. It always sits with its wings closed to display the bright markings of its undersides. It fearlessness, weak flight and distinctive markings all indicate that it is a protected butterfly, which is peculiar considering that its hostplants are not known to contain any sequestrable toxins.
There is a mention in literature of the species being found at lights at night, however such phenomena are usually restricted to species that are crepuscular and this occurrence may be incidental.
It is not a common butterfly, but near its food plant, Kalanchoe, it is found in abundance and is gregarious in all its stages.
The female lays eggs on the underside of a leaf. Young and old leaves are selected without discrimination as the leaves of Kalanchoe are thick and succulent during all stages.
The larval host plants are Kalanchoe laciniata and K. pinnata of the family Crassulaceae (Stonecrop family); the latter host being a common garden plant. Adult butterflies have sometimes been seen to visit lichens. Studies suggest that they collect phenolic substances by scraping lichens.
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