Abantis tettensis Hopffer 1855

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 : 44

publication ID

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

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scientific name

Abantis tettensis Hopffer 1855


Abantis tettensis Hopffer 1855

This is the type species of the genus Abantis . It was described from Mozambique, and is found from South Africa to Angola, Congo and Kenya ( Evans 1937), and into Ethiopia (Harar), northern Uganda, southern Sudan and northern Cameroun (T.B. Larsen pers. comm. 2010). Larsen (1991): "This is a widely distributed skipper in the savannah zones of Kenya, with records from the north, west and the Ukambani, but not from the coast proper. The habitat is savannah country, but the species is generally rare to very rare."

Adult behaviour

As early as 1871 this species was recognised as a hill-topper ( Trimen 1889). van Someren (1955) provides more detail: “Amongst the smaller, but nevertheless typical, hilltop visitors of interest are two species of Skippers of the genus Abantis , A. paradisea B. and A. tettensis Hopp. They too are very aggressive and jealously keep guard of a favourite stance, usually a bare twig. Their flight is extremely rapid and strong, and as they dart about it is almost impossible to follow them”. I have only encountered this species once, hill-topping beside the Magadi Road just past Olepolos ( Figure 34 View FIGURE 34 ), between 12.30 and 13.30 (28.iii.1990)—see also comments under A. paradisea . Females do come to flowers but are much rarer ( Dickson & Kroon 1978). Kielland (1990) reports that both sexes are attracted to water.

In South Africa, Williams found Grewia flava to be a food plant near Pretoria ( Pringle et al. 1994). Henning et al. (1997) illustrate the caterpillar and pupa and give the food plants as Grewia flava and G. monticola . Heath et al. 2002 repeat these food plants, while Mendes & Bivar de Souza (2009) give Grewia sp. The caterpillar is “greenish-white, very similar to C. pillaana , but headshield dark reddish” ( Henning et al. 1997). The pupa illustrated is reddish brown with a large, dark, frontal projection deeply divided at about 120°. All other Abantis spp. pupae are white, often with dark markings – could this colouring be of a pupa about to emerge?