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Common Gull males
A medium sized black, white and yellow butterfly with a wingspan of 40-50 mm.
The upper side is creamy white with black veins. The apex and the marginal areas along the costa and termen are black, embedded with cream coloured markings. The dark markings of the underside hind wing show through faintly on the upper side.
The underside ground colour of the hind wing is yellow and the veins are broadly lined with light brown to dark gray scales. The forewing is similarly marked, but the ground colour is mostly white.
The sexes look similar in the field. However, the female may be distinguished from the male by the following traits: (a) more extensive black markings on both wings; (b) more rounded forewings; (c) wider black markings on the veins and; (d) on the upperside, it has a wide black band that completely surrounds cell.
The Pioneer - The underside ground colour of the hind wing is bright chrome yellow. The termenal band on the hind wing is black to very dark gray brown and wide. Worn-out individuals of both species look similar in flight. However, once settled, it is not difficult to tell them apart.
Status, distribution and habitat
It is a common widely distributed insect of the scrub jungles of the intermediate, dry and arid zones. It is commonest during the pre-monsoon period and is sometimes seen in the hills during migrations. Although it joins migratory flights, it is not a nuclear species.
It flies moderately fast in a zigzag path with a continuous flapping of its wings and keeps relatively low to the ground. It moves through dense scrub quite well, though it often goes around thickets or simply flies over them, keeping a uniform distance between itself and the foliage. When it settles to nectar in its wanderings, it keeps its wings slightly open and often hangs on the flower or sits at an incline. It is often found in the company of other other 'Whites' such as the Yellow and White Orange Tips, the Pioneer and the Striped Albatross, which all share the same habitat. Like them, it is attracted to wet gravel or the edges of drying up pools on river beds, especially during hot weather.
The eggs are laid singly on the underside of the leaves of capers, usually on those near the ground or a few feet above the ground. The larvae are uniformly green in color and blend well into the leaves on which they feed. Pupation often occurs on the underside of a leaf but may be anywhere on the plant.
The larval host plants are Capparis zeylanica and Capparis sepiara and probably other capers as well.
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