Leucochitonea 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 : 43

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

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Leucochitonea Wallengren 1857


Leucochitonea Wallengren 1857 View in CoL

This African genus of three species was erected for L. levubu Wallengren ( Ackery et al. 1995) , a fairly common and widespread southern African member of the genus. Leucochitonea hindei (Druce) is restricted to the drylands of Kenya and adjacent Ethiopia ( Larsen 1991) and although it has quite a wide distribution in the drylands of Kenya, it is always rare. It is not clear what its habitat requirements are, so its status can only be guessed, but as an endemic in a semi-arid area under human pressure, it is likely to become rarer. Leucochitonea amneris Rebel & Rogenhofer is restricted to Tanzania ( Evans 1937; Kielland 1990).

The genus is structurally similar to Abantis , but Evans (1937) notes that Leucochitonea differs in appearance and the presence of a black hair pencil on the thorax between the forelegs, as in Caprona , from which it differs in the regular outline of the wings. The only host plant record is from Malvaceae : Leucochitonea levubu is stated to feed on Grewia flava ( Migdoll 1988; Pringle et al. 1994; Henning et al. 1997; Heath et al. 2002), based on observations by Williams near Pretoria according to the second of these sources. Larsen (pers. comm. 2010) considers that L. levubu in Botswana is “strictly associated” with G. flava . We have not reared any members of this genus.

All three Leucochitonea spp. are similar in colouring and habitat, and so are likely to show similar behaviour and may well use similar food plants. In colour, Leucochitonea spp. resemble white butterflies of the family Pieridae . However, L. amneris rests with its wings spread when feeding at flowers or water ( Kielland 1990), and so is immediately distinguishable from pierids which feed with their wings closed. The males of L. levubu are known to hill-top during the middle of the day, where they will defend a territory, while females come to flowers, and the species also comes to mud after a storm ( Cooper 1973, Dickson & Kroon 1978).











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