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Common Indian Crow
A large butterfly with wingspan of 80-90 mm. Sexes are alike. The scent patch of the male is located on the upper side of the forewing between the lower margin and the cell. It is a single, narrow, dark, oily-looking streak. On the underside, there is a dull brown streak in the same position as the scent patch. The scent patches cannot be seen unless the butterfly is examined in the hand. Although the female does not have scent patches, she does have a single whitish streak on the underside of the hind wing at the location that corresponds to the one seen in the male. This whitish streak helps to identify the specific species to which it belongs.
The upper side of both sexes is glossy brown, and is much lighter in color towards the outer margin. In freshly emerged specimens, the gloss is more pronounced and quite striking. The markings on the underside correspond to those on the upper side. The cells of both wings carry a white spot, which is a useful characteristic in its identification.
Brown King Crow, Double Banded Crow, Great Crow, female Great Eggfly and male Common Palmfly. More information.
Status, distribution and habitat
Perhaps the commonest and most abundant butterfly in the island and may be seen almost anywhere from the coastal plains to the highest hills, in cities, villages, plantations and forests. It is found throughout the year. The largest numbers are seen towards the end of the monsoons. Its great abundance corresponds well with the relatively high abundance and very wide distribution of its varied larval host plants.
More information about Danaids
The Common Indian Crow flies slowly and leisurely, often meandering and sailing for short distances before alighting on a favorite flower, a damp spot or a place to rest. During migration, its leisurely flight changes to a straight line, and despite the sluggish movement of its wings, it covers great distances.
It flies at all levels but is most likely to be encountered a few feet off the ground. It is attracted to a host of wild flowers, including the introduced Eupatorium odoratum which it finds delightful. This plant is also known to have the pyrollidizine alkaloids which Danainae use in the synthesis of their pheromones. It is also attracted to ornamentals such as Duranta, Zinnias and Cosmos. The male is attracted to mud puddles during hot weather but not nearly as avidly as the 'Whites and Yellows'.
They often congregate in large numbers under trees, either to keep away from the mid-day heat or to seek shelter in the evenings to roost. On such occasions they may be seen settled with their wings closed, hanging onto the lower dead twigs or the vines that climb up the tree within the canopy. They fly away when disturbed but soon return to the same tree or one nearby. When handled, they emit an unpleasant odor and often play dead. But once released, they come alive and fly away.
The larvae feed on species of Ficus, Nerium, Adenium and Ichnocarpus. Most of these plants have poisonous sap which the larvae assimilate into the haemolymph, and subsequently pass on to the adult butterflies. I once observed a flock of Common Babblers on a fig tree (Ficus benjamina), feasting on the final instar larvae of this species. A study of the larval host plant preferences of this species and its evolutionary significance might be interesting.
Newly emerged larvae on Adenium obesum
| Ova and an older larva on Adenium obesum
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