Eagris nottoana nottoana ( Wallengren 1857 )

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 : 22-24

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

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scientific name

Eagris nottoana nottoana ( Wallengren 1857 )


Eagris nottoana nottoana ( Wallengren 1857) ( Figures 15–17 View FIGURE 15 View FIGURE 16 View FIGURE 17 )

This species was originally described from Kaffraria and although common in South Africa and Mozambique, it is rare in the balance of its range which extends through eastern Africa to Ethiopia ( Evans 1937). A second subspecies, smithii (Mabille), is restricted to Madagascar ( Evans 1937), and a third knysna Evans was described from Knysna, Western Cape Province, South Africa ( Evans 1947), and found eastwards along the coast in Eastern Cape ( Henning et al. 1997). A closely related species was recently described from Angola as E. multiplagata (Bivar de Souza & Mendes 2007) . The sexes of E. nottoana show considerable dimorphism. The male is dark brown above and below, lacks spots and is very distinct. The female is similar to E. sabadius above but the underside hind wing is predominantly white. This intriguing species seems to be widespread in upland Kenya, but always rare. I have only encountered females – in Ngong Forest and the Escarpment Forest.

Adult behaviour

I have only seen the females when feeding at flowers. They do not usually pause long at any particular plant, and rapidly move on. I have not seen any males in Kenya, but one I caught in Swaziland was defending a territory in a sunlit patch of forest, perching at about 3m above the ground.

Food plants

I have expended considerable time and effort in trying to locate caterpillars of this species in Ngong Forest, but frustratingly only reared out E. sabadius . However, collectors of the African Butterfly Research Institute (ABRI) recently found caterpillars of this species at Nanyuki, Kenya, on Scutia sp. ( Rhamnaceae ). Published records of food plants for this species are summarised in Table 5, but it seems most or all actually refer to E. nottoana knysna .

1 Dickson & Kroon (1978) do not state whether the food plant records are for E. n. nottoana or E. nottoana knysna .

2 Pringle et al. (1994) attribute all food plant observations to E. nottoana knysna , but appear to imply that E. n. nottoana uses the same food plants.

3 Henning et al. (1997) attribute all food plant records to E. nottoana knysna only.

Early stages

We illustrate caterpillars of E. n. nottoana collected by ABRI staff on Scutia sp. at Nanyuki and photographed by TCEC in Sep 2010 ( Figures 15–16 View FIGURE 15 View FIGURE 16 ). As can be seen they differ from E. sabadius and E. lucetia in that they have a distinct row of elongate dorsolateral yellow spots, which form an interrupted line. The head capsule of the penultimate instar is dark brown, while that of the final instar is plain brown.

A pupa reared from the same collection ( Figure 17 View FIGURE 17 ) is very similar to those of E. sabadius ( Figures 9 View FIGURE 9 and 12 View FIGURE 12 ), including the orientation and shape of the frontal projection, but the markings on the head, dorsum of forewing and laterally on the abdomen are significantly darker, at least in this example. Empty pupae in NHM ex van Someren collection appear to be the same, but the frontal projection is missing in all.

The detailed life history by G.C. Clark (in Dickson & Kroon 1978) is of E. nottoana knysna reared from East London, Cape Province. The ovum illustrated by Clark is similar to that of E. sabadius , and also covered with abdominal hairs. It seems to have one or two ribs less than E. sabadius . The early leaf shelter is similar to that made by E. sabadius . The caterpillar is similar to that of E. n. nottoana , and in the fourth and fifth instars it develops a dorsolateral row of yellow spots on the abdominal body segments; the head is plain reddish brown. The pupa is similar to that of E. n. nottoana , but paler on the head and wing cases, possibly due to a heavier deposition of white waxy powder. Henning et al. (1997) include a photograph of the pupa, which is very similar to that of E. n. nottoana ( Figure 17 View FIGURE 17 ) and E. sabadius ( Figure 9 View FIGURE 9 ), but the frontal projection appears to be pale, broader, and more dilated distally than in E. sabadius , and perhaps E. n. nottoana , although this is not clear in our Figure 17 View FIGURE 17 . The markings of the head and dorsum of the forewing are darker than E. sabadius , but not as dark as E. n. nottoana , while the white waxy powder on the abdomen is more extensive dorsally than in E. n. nottoana .