Common Nawab
Polyura athamas, Drury

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Common Nawab feeding on rotting mango fruit

It is a medium-sized insect with a wingspan of 50-60 mm. The sexes are similar though the female is larger and have longer tails. In both sexes, the upperside is black to dark brown with creamy central areas that are contiguous on both fore and hind wings. The two subapical spots of the forewing are a similar cream colour, as are the submarginal spots on the hind wing. There is some variation in the width of the sulphur coloured band on the underside.

Similar species

Status, distribution and habitat
It occurs from sea level to 5000 feet elevation but is absent from the north of the island. It is an inhabitant of the forested areas and is not as common as it used to be. However, the widespread cultivation of Albizzia and Acacia in tea plantations and the planting of the ornamental Poinciana trees along roadsides has extended its range to non-forested areas as well. Albizzia, Acacia and Poinciana are larval host plants of the Common Nawab.

It is a strong flier and may be seen flying around tree tops searching for females, or flying into trees in search of oozing sap, in which it delights. It descends to feed on rotting fallen fruit now and again, but not habitually. However, when rotting fruits are enriched with rum or molasses, it would descend to the ground readily. If cautious, it can be approached closely. When disturbed, it quickly flies up into the trees and settles down on a leaf where it may remain for a considerable period of time. The males are avid hill toppers and may be seen flying around searching for females in such places. It is not uncommon to see it in the company of the Black Rajah. 

Early stages
The larvae feed on a wide range of Leguminoseae.

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