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Oriental Apefly - Spalgis epeus

Oriental Apefly - Spalgis epeus

Apefly - A butterfly with a wingspan less than 30 mm holds "Not rare" status as per Winter-blyth. It is from the resemblance of the chrysalis to a monkey's head, butterfly gets its name 'ape'fly. Spread of this species is almost covers the entire India. In the field, individual of this species can be easily identified. Its is smaller than all the blues normally found in the upper western ghat region. Under side is dull white with wavy markings on it. Sex can be distinguished FW apex and termen. Male have acute apex FW and termen straight while its rounded in female. The canary yellow eyes are appealing and challenging for macro photography. When shot from the front with wings closed, individual resembles Eiffel tower. It added one more fabulous angle to my earlier write-up about 'angles of photography'. Flight is fast, hence not easy to track. I saw the individual comes to the same spot, if left for some reason. Prefers shady places and seats above the leaf. In this position there is good chance to catch the glimpse of its upper-wing. Upper wing is dark brown.

When laying eggs female continuously hovers above the plant. Seats only for few second to lay eggs. Photographing the female is really patience testing phenomenon. This butterfly lay eggs among the scale insects and thus very difficult to find one. Even the cats are difficult to find. I tried many times, and now realized that somebody who has seen the cat and pupa should guide me. Ants are always seen associated with the cats. The host plant can be any plant with bugs, Scale insects and ants. I have often spotted this species near hibiscus plant. Caterpillars unlike others feeds on the insects (only carnivorous butterfly  species in the western ghat, on national level Moth butterfly is the other one) and doesn't require plant parts to eat. 

Quick facts:
Scientific name : Spalgis epeus 
Wingspan : 20-30 mm
Characteristics: carnivorous caterpillar.

Ref: Butterflies of Indian region by Winter-Blyth

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