Common Sailor - Neptis hylas varmona, Moore

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Common Sailor

Wingspan of 50-60 mm. Both sexes are similar but the females are larger. The ground colour of the upper side is black with white oval shaped markings; the ones on the hind wing are closely spaced to form a band at the center of the wing. The shades of brown, chestnut and yellow on the underside vary considerably depending on the season.

Similar species
Chestnut Streaked Sailor

Status, distribution and habitat
It is a common butterfly that occurs from sea level to about 3000 feet elevation. It prefers lightly wooded areas with scrub jungle, but is seen everywhere. It inhabits much drier areas than the Chestnut Streaked Sailor.

Its flight pattern is very distinctive - a few wing beats followed by a spell of sailing with its wings held horizontally. It stops the power stroke of its wings abruptly when the wings reach the horizontal plane and keeps them locked in that position for the rest of the glide before it flicks them once again. It usually flies low to the ground and is fond of bright sun. In dappled shade, its pied markings conceal it quite well and may confer some advantage to escape predators. In the early morning hours, it often basks in the sun with its open wings, and after warming up, flies about a great deal in search of nectar, ripe or spoiled fruits, fermenting juices or exudates from trees. While feeding, it rhythmically opens and closes its wings. When it roosts, it does so with its wings held above its back, making it less conspicuous to predators. It is occasionally attracted to damp soil.

Early stages
The larvae feed on a wide range of plants belonging to Leguminoseae, Tiliaceae and Malvaceae.

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