Eagris lucetia

Cock, Matthew J. W. & Congdon, T. Colin E., 2011, Observations on the biology of Afro-tropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera) principally from Kenya. Part 2. Pyrginae: Tagiadini 2893, Zootaxa 2893 (1), pp. 1-66 : 20-22

publication ID

https://doi.org/ 10.11646/zootaxa.2893.1.1

persistent identifier


treatment provided by


scientific name

Eagris lucetia


Eagris lucetia (Hewitson 1876 (1872–1876)) ( Figures 13–14 View FIGURE 13 View FIGURE 14 )

This distinctive species was described from Angola, and its range extends to Cameroon and Kenya; Evans’ (1937) records from Nigeria were actually from the former British Cameroons, Bamenda area ( T. B. Larsen pers. comm. 2010). The background colour is dark grey in fresh adult specimens ( Figure 13 View FIGURE 13 ), but this fades to brown as they age in collections. The males have no costal fold although Evans (1937) states that they do. Although restricted to western Kenya, E. lucetia is quite widespread in patches of forest in that area; it is usually scarce with just the odd specimen seen, but occasionally is quite common (e.g. North Kakamega Forest, 17 Jun 1991, 22 Sep 1991) .

Adult behaviour

This is a forest species. Adults come readily to flowers, particularly Justicia flava ( Acanthaceae ), but will also perch, sometimes as low as 1m, but usually at 3– 4m. In flight the white colour is eye-catching.

Food plants

Le Pelley (1959) recorded the food plant in Uganda as Allophylus subcoriaceus ( Sapindaceae ), and Sevastopulo (1975) also lists this food plant for East Africa. van Someren (1974) records Rhus pyroides var. pyroides (= vulgaris) and R. laevigata ( var. villosa ) ( Anacardiaceae ) as food plants for East Africa (which Sevastopulo (1981) simply lists as Rhus ). Larsen (1991) quotes my unpublished record on Allophylus (below). Other and subsequent authors ( Kielland 1990; Ackery et al. 1995; Heath et al. 2002; Larsen 2005) simply list Rhus and Allophylus .

I have reared this species from caterpillars collected on A. macrobotrys in a small patch of roadside forest near Kaimosi. Because I did not distinguish the caterpillars from those of E. sabadius , which also utilise Allophylus spp. , I did not pay them particular attention (as can be seen from the inadequate photographic record). They were reared in Nairobi on either Pavonia urens or more probably on Cardiospermum grandiflorum , but I did not record this.


Two eclosed ova were found in association with leaf shelters and two caterpillars on A. macrobotrys near Kaimosi, 21 Jul 1990 (90/78), and one of these was reared,. They were laid on the leaf upper surface in the middle of the lamina, were 0.9mm in diameter and covered with pale hairs about 0.8mm long. They were not distinguished from ova of E. sabadius at the time.

Leaf shelters

In the same collection (90/78), the stage 1 shelter was a one-cut mid-lamina shelter of 7mm diameter, and the stage 2 shelter was similar but 10mm in diameter. They were not distinguished from leaf shelters of E. sabadius . Soon after moulting to the fourth instar, the larger caterpillar made a large two-cut triangular shelter.


I have only encountered caterpillars once (90/78), and neither then, nor during the course of rearing was I aware of any significant differences from the early stages of E. sabadius .

Instar 2. The stage 1 shelter contained a 4mm caterpillar, which was probably instar 2 (09/78B). The head was brown and the body red. It was not reared through.

Instar 3. The caterpillar in the stage 2 shelter measured 7mm and was in the third instar (90/78A). Head 1.2 x 1.1mm wide x high; brown, reticulate, strongly rugose at apices. Body shiny translucent green; white dorsolateral longitudinal line.

Instar 4. This instar lasted nine days, and in the middle of the instar, the caterpillar measured 13mm, when it was photographed ( Figure 14 View FIGURE 14 ), unfortunately rather poorly, so that although the head was partly cut off in the picture, it can be seen to be dark brown, and very much the same as some individuals of the penultimate instar of E. sabadius ( Figure 7 View FIGURE 7 ). The head measured 2.0 x 2.0mm.

Instar 5. The head of the fifth instar caterpillar was also uniformly brown, although not as dark as that of the fourth instar; the vertex, epicranial suture and adfrontals were darker; the surface reticulate and the apices strongly rugose. Like the final instar of E. sabadius , the body appears smooth to the naked eye, but under 40x examination with a binocular microscope, the cast final instar skin can be seen to be covered with very short, simple, pale setae, with scattered longer, simple, pale setae. The caterpillars were not distinguished from E. sabadius and no detailed description was prepared or photograph taken. The instar lasted 19 days.


I found a pupa of E. lucetia in Kakamega Forest, in a shelter similar to those used by E. sabadius for pupation, except this was on Setaria megaphylla ( Poaceae ) (91/64). Doubtless the caterpillar had strayed off the normal food plant and had pupated on a randomly selected plant of suitable leaf consistency. Neither this pupa, nor that reared from the caterpillar collected on A. macrobotrys (90/78B) was distinguished from those of E. sabadius , and I could find no reliable characters to separate the preserved emerged pupae. The first pupa was female and measured 17mm, while the second was male and measured 15mm.

Pupa similar in shape and colouring to that of E. sabadius . The following is based on the emerged pupae. Frontal spike short and broad; at apex divided into dorsal and ventral segments, each of which is divided laterally, giving a quadrifurcate tip. Proboscis sheath (of 90/78B) extends to cremaster. Small bump on dorsum at posterior of T2. Spiracle T1 rounded and protuberant; covered with short erect golden hairs; other spiracles pale brown, inconspicuous. Ground colour mottled pale brown; dark brown rows of irregular patches on abdomen subdorsally, dorsolaterally and ventrolaterally; overlay of white wax on head, T2, appendages and A2 to cremaster; more strongly white on dorsum and posterior third of T2, dorsal line A2-cremaster, broad area dorsolaterally on A2–A3 adjacent to wings, appendages except space 1A on forewing; dark spots show through sparsely on fore wing veins 2, 3, cell and costa. Pupa covered with scattered inconspicuous short pale hairs, except on appendages; those on dorsal surfaces arising from small circular pits arranged in irregular transverse rows on abdomen, irregularly on thorax. The reared pupa (90/78A) emerged after 15 days.


Tavera, Department of Geology and Geophysics