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Black Rajah feeding on a rotting banana peel
It is medium sized insect with a wingspan of 65-80 mm. The sexes are similar but the females are much larger and have longer tails. In both sexes, the upper side is black to dark brown with a series of closely spaced orange yellow spots along the center of both fore- and hind- wings. The submarginal band on the hind wing also has a series of markings of similar colour.
Status, distribution and habitat
It is an uncommon butterfly and is confined to areas below 2000 feet elevation. Its distribution maps well with the distribution of its only known larval food plant, Tamarindus indica. (The Tamarind of commerce is its fruit. It is a key ingredient in the wonderful Sri Lankan dishes!) It inhabits forest, home gardens and other cultivated areas that provide sufficient tree cover.
Like others in its group, it is a very strong flier and stays around the high tree canopy searching for mates or tree sap which it finds irresistible. The Black Rajah is frequently seen on Cassia nodosa and Photinia japonica (Loquat), two tree species that frequently have tree sap oozing from their smaller branches. It cannot resist rotting fruit and other fermenting juices and readily comes down to bait mixed with rum or toddy (fermented tree sap of the coconut palm). It is also partial to large bodies of water and settles on leaves of Nymphea. The males are avid hill toppers and may be seen flying around searching for females. The top of the Sigiriya Rock in the dry zone is a place where the males are almost always seen.
The larva feeds on the leaves of the common Tamarind tree, Tamarindus indica.
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