Tamil Lacewing - Cethosia nietneri, Felder

Home | Ecological zones | Butterflies | Larval food plants | Nectar food plants | Dragonflies | Moths | Other insects | Links | Sightings | Glossary |

Female Tamil Lacewing

Wingspan of 75-95 mm. A large black and blue-gray butterfly. It has deeply scalloped wing margins with matching white lunular markings above. The area towards the base of both wings on the upperside is reddish brown in the male. In the extreme wet season forms, the reddish patch may be entirely lacking, making it difficult to separate the sexes. The underside of both sexes is boldly marked with contrasting colors, the bright tawny to orange yellow post-median band being the most striking. These are warning colorations to keep predators at bay.

Similar species

Status, distribution and habitat
An uncommon butterfly, but widely distributed. It is commonest between 2000 and 3000 feet elevation, and is seldom seen outside forested areas. It frequents glades and edges of forests. On occasion, it is seen in home gardens that are close to forests.  In the dry and intermediate zones, it is encountered mostly at the foot hills.

It flies in a straight line about ten to fifteen feet above ground. It moves forward with a continuous, slow, and labored flapping of its wings; it rarely glides. The female may be seen higher up in the canopy searching for wild passion vines to lay her eggs, though she prefers to oviposit on leaves lower down. It is a nectar lover and often visits flowers, even exotics such as Zinnia. Both the male and female bask in the sun in the early morning hours, especially at the higher elevations. The predators avoid the adult because its body contains toxins that were accumulated by the larva from the host plant on which it fed.

Early stages
The eggs are laid singly on the young shoots of the host plant. The larva is brightly coloured to warn predators of its unpalatabilty.
Larval host plants: Adenia hondala, the poisonous wild passion vine of Sri Lanka.

A larva of the Tamil Lacewing that
had fallen to the forest floor.

Previous  |  Next

Danaidae | Satyridae | Amathusiidae | Nymphalidae | Acraeidea | Libytheidae | Riodinidae | Lycaenidae | Pieridae | Papilionidae | Hesperidae