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A small to medium sized brown butterfly with large eyespots on the upper side of both wings. The females are larger and have more prominent eyespots than the males. The under side of both sexes are pale brown with cryptic markings. However, the ground colour varies a great deal, with specimens showing a range of colors from dark brown to pink to peach.
Status, distribution and habitat
A widely distributed species that is commonest in the dry and intermediate zones of the island and ascends to hills to about 1500 feet elevation. It is found in wide open spaces with lots of sunshine and is seen year round.
The male is much more abundant than the female. The Lemon Pansy, like all the members of its group, is territorial. The males often perch at strategic locations to intercept females. From such vantage points, they would frequently take off to inspect potential mates passing by. Its perch is sometimes no more than a small rock jutting out of the ground. Although it is a perching species, it does move into new locations when it finds its current location to be unsuitable. It is quite well camouflaged when it sits still with its wings held above its abdomen, especially against sand coloured backgrounds.
It is a nectar lover and frequently settles to feed on short herbs and shrubs, during which time it displays its upper sides. It has a typical posture that it takes when it spreads its wings. So much so, that most photographs taken of this butterfly look very similar. As evening approaches, they retire to the thickets and spend the night clinging onto a tall grass stem or something similar with their wings folded above the body.
The larvae feed on members of the Acanthaceae. The females sometimes lay their eggs indiscriminately on non-larval host plants or dead twigs in the vicinity of of their larval host plants. Sometimes the eggs are laid on very small plants, and the larvae upon exhausting its food source, disperse and locate other plants in the vicinity very quickly. During the day, they lie hidden within the herbaceous plants.
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