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Male Decorated Ace on a fern leaf
Wingspan 32-38mm. A medium sized dark brown and straw coloured skipper. The males are easily distinguished from all similar sized skippers in the island by the distinctive uniform brownish yellow undersides with small black markings. There is a series of regular black spots on the underside submarginal band of the forewing. The upper sides are very dark brown with some yellow markings and spots. The underside ground colour of the female is reddish brown and it does not have the black spots on the submarginal area. The upper sides lack the yellow scales of the males.
The Branded Swifts resemble the female Decorated Ace, but have white spots on the underside hind wing, which the Decorated Ace does not have.
Status, distribution and habitat
A rare butterfly of the wet zone of the island confined to open boggy areas adjoining streams and rivers. It is very local and will not stray too far from its habitat. Once encountered, it may be seen in some numbers. It is most frequently met with between June and November.
On the few occasions that I have seen this butterfly, it has always been in the vicinity of boggy areas bordering dense scrub. Here, the males perch and wait for females to come by. The flight is very fast and it is difficult to follow once it takes to the air, but it does not fly too far and usually comes back to settle in the same area. I have not seen it nectar on flowers or sip mud. The females are very scarce, even where males are found. It prefers to stay within the bush rather than in the open.
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