Thursday, November 7, 2013

Danaid Eggfly

The seventeenth species in the 'butterfly from my garden' series is the Danaid Eggfly ( Hypolimnas misippus) The below photographs are of the female, which mimic the Plain Tiger ( remember my previous post on the reason for mimicry) 

The below photographs are of the male.

The male of the butterfly is quite similar to the Great eggfly ( featured a few days ago) and can sometimes be quite a challenge in the field to discern.
If the male is sitting on bare ground like this- it is probably soaking in minerals from urine of animals or humans.

So why is an eggfly called an eggfly? Several member of this genus are extraordinary parents, compared to other butterflies. They safeguard their offspring with a lot of care. Prior to laying eggs they ensure that they are clear from any predators, especially ants. Once they lay their eggs, they stand guard over them, like a protective umbrella protecting them from wasps. They stay this way, until the eggs are hatched and the caterpillars have dispersed.  Meanwhile the protective female dies in this position. This butterfly is also infected by a bacteria called Wolbachia, which kills only the males.

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