Butterfly Check List for the Mkondeni/Mpushini Valleys

Many thanks to Dr Americo Bonkewitzz for most of the information contained in this post.

The Mkondeni-Mpushini Valleys are very unique, very close to Pitermaritzburg,  and very accessible to everyone. Yet they hold a secret that is invisible to many casual observers -- the valleys are alive with "white" butterflies that are hosted by just three species of plants an which they breed. No matter which season you visit the valleys, on a sunny day you will see numerous butterflies flying around. That is a sign that the bush is healthy, alive but at the same time, very vulnerable to human development.

The area is not rich in the swallowtails -- only Green-banded Swallowtails, Citrus Swallowtails and Mocker Swallowtails -- and not many Pansies either -- only the Yellow Pansies, Eyed Pansies, Brown Pansies and Garden Commodores among others -- but the uniqueness of the area is the rich composition of the so-called "white butterflies". For the more knowledgable they belong to the Pieridae family. The most interesting thing is that the diverse composition of white butterflies in the bush of the Mpushini Valley are based on only three species of of plants belonging to the Caper family (Caperacea Family): the Worm Bush (Cadaba natalensis), Bush Cherry (Maerua rosmaniroides), and Caper bush (Capparis sp.).
The first sight of butterflies in the valley that visitors experience are plenty of Sulphur Orange Tips (Colotis danae) flying around. All of these feed on a single species of plant: the Worm Bush, which is abundant in the valley. The Bush Cherry and the Caper bush are not so plentiful, but still maintain many other white butterfly species, particularly the magnificent Purple Tip (Colotis ione).

     

The importance of the area is that the majority of the butterflies at Mkondeni Mpushini area consist of species that depend exclusively on Caper plants: (Colotis danae, Colotis auxo, Colotis ione, Colotis egavore, Colotis antevippe, Colotis euvippe, Colotis eris, Eronia leda, Belenois creona, Belenois gidica, Dixeia pigea, Dixeia charina, Leptosia alcesta, Belenois thysa, etc). To remove one Caper plant specimen would have much more consequences for the butterfly composition there than removing, for instance, an Acacia. Before clearing an area for development at Mkondeni-Mpushini, this type of plants of the area must be properly identified. All Caper plants at Mkondeni-Mpushini should be marked and protected against housing development. By protecting the plants we keep the butterflies –plants relation intact.
Another problem at Mkondeni is the presence of the Window Acraeas or also called Rooibos Acraea (Acraea oncaea). In spite that it is an indigenous butterfly, it should not be there, because its food plant, the African Dog Rose (Xylotheca krausiana), does not occur there at all. I found that at Mkondeni the high number of these Acraeas is due to the presence of an exotic creeper of the Granadilla Family (Passiflora suberosa), which is encroaching into the indigenous plants particularly the area of Mkondeni facing Shortt’s Retreat and down along Old Main Rd.
 
The Mkondeni-Mpushini Valley allows us to enjoy the experience of seeing indigenous species of plants and butterflies that otherwise we have to travel quite a lot to find them in private and expensive game parks and reserves. They are just at the door steps of Pietermaritzburg. It's a valuable educational asset that it has to be proper managed and protected. If we do not do anything to prevent the continuous disturbance in Mkondeni-Mpushini, the last resort would be for nature lovers of Pietermaritzburg to watch exotic butterflies in a butterfly house.
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The Mkondeni – Mpushini Valleys are the closest place to Pietermaritzburg to host a large number of Pieridae species. Particularly the Purple Tip (Colotis ione). 80% of the butterflies in the Mkondeni-Mpushini area are dependent on Capparacea plants. Soon this place is going to be a quite contentious because of planned residential and industrial developments in the area. 
Butterfly check list
Please note: The first column contains the Scientific names; the second column contains the common names; and the last column is the page reference in “Field Guide to the Butterflies of South Africa” by Steve Woodhall (Struik).
The numbers reflected in the last column (#) indicate the page numbers in the above book.



No.

Scientific Name

Common Name/s

#

1

Eretis djaelaelae (Wallengren)

Marbled Elf

366

2

Sarangesa motozi (Wallengren)

Forest Elfin

368

3

Sarangesa phidyle (Walker)

Small Elfin

366

4

Spialia diomus ferax (Wallengren)

Common Sandman

378

5

Kedestes macomo (Trimen)

Macomo Ranger

392

6

Gegenes niso niso (Linnaeus)

Common Hottentot Skipper

412

7

Papilio (Princeps) dardanus cenea (Stoll)

Mocker Swallowtail

350

8

Papilio (Princeps) dardanus tibullus (Kirby)

(Mocker Swallowtail)


9

Papilio (Princeps) demodocus demodocus (Esper)

Citrus Swallowtail

350

10

Papilio (Princeps) nireus lyaeus (Doubleday)

Green-banded Swallowtail

352

11

Graphium (Arisbe) leonidas leonidas (Fabricius)

Veigned Swallowtail

354

12

Catopsilia florella (Fabricius)

African or Common Migrant

346

13

Colias electo electo (Linnaeus)

African Clouded Yellow

346

14

Eurema (Eurema) brigitta brigitta (Stoll)

Broad-bordered Grass Yellow

348

15

Eurema (Terias) hecabe solifera (Butler)

Common Grass Yellow

348

16

Pinacopteryx eriphia eriphia (Godart)

Zebra White

318

17

Nepheronia buquetii buquetii (Boisduval)

Burquet's Vagrant ot Green-eyed Monster

320

18

Eronia cleodora cleodora (Hubner)

Vine-leaf Vagrant

318

19

Eronia leda (Boisduval)

Autumn-leaf Vagrant

320

20

Colotis (Colotis) antevippe gavisa (Wallengren)

Red Tip

328

21

Colotis (Colotis) antevippe zera (Lucas)

(Red Tip)


22

Colotis (Colotis) auxo (Lucas)

Sulphur Orange Tip

328

23

Colotis (Colotis) danae annae (Wallengren)

Scarlet Tip

326

24

Colotis (Colotis) euippe omphale (Godart)

Smoky Orange Tip

330

25

Colotis (Colotis) evagore evagore (Klug)



26

Colotis (Colotis) evagore antigone (Boisduval)

Small Orange Tip

332

27

Colotis (Colotis) ione (Godart)

Bushveld or Common Purple Tip

326

28

Colotis (Teracolus) eris eris (Klug)

Banded Gold Tip

332

29

Belenois (Belenois) thysa thysa (Hopffer)

False Dotted Border

334

30

Belenois (Anaphaeis) aurota aurota (Fabricius)

Brown-viened White

336

31

Belenois (Anaphaeis) creona severina (Stoll)

African Common White

336


Belenois (Pseudanaphaeis) gidica abyssinica Lucas

African Veined White

336

32

Pontia (Pontia) helice helice (Linnaeus)

Meadow White

342

33

Dixeia charina charina (Boisduval)

African Small White

338

34

Dixeia pigea (Boisduval)

Ant-heap Small White

338

35

Appias (Glutophrissa) epaphia contracta (Butler)

Diverse White

340

36

Mylothris agathina agathina (Cramer)

Common Dotted Border

344

37

Leptosia alcesta inalcesta (Bernardi)

African Wood White

342

38

Acraea (Acraea) acara acara (Hewitson)

Acara Acraea

88

39

Acraea (Acraea) horta (Linnaeus)

Garden Acraea

80

40

Acraea (Stephenia) natalica (Boisduval)

Natal Acraea

84

41

Acraea (Stephenia) oncaea (Hopffer)

Window Acraea

86

42

Hyalites (Hyalites) cabira (Hopffer)

Yellow-banded Acrea

96

43

Hyalites (Hyalites) encedon encedon (Linnaeus)

White-barred Acraea

98

44

Hyalites (Hyalites) eponina (Cramer)

Small Orange Acraea

96

45

Hyalites (Hyalites) esebria esebria (Hewitson)

Dusky Acraea

98

46

Pardopsis punctatissima (Boisduval)

Polka Dot

98

47

Danaus (Anosia) chrysippus aegyptius (Schreber)

African Monarch

36

48

Amauris (Amaura) albimaculata albimaculata Butler

Layman

38

49

Bicyclus safitza safitza (Westwood)

Common Bush Brown

42

50

Henotesia perspicua perspicua (Trimen)

Eyed Bush Brown or Marsh Patroller

44

51

Cassionympha cassius (Godart)

Rainforest Brown

62

52

Phalanta phalantha aethiopica (Rothschild and Jordan)

African or Common Leopard

100

53

Hypolimnas anthedon anthedon (Doubleday)

Variable Diadem

130

54

Hypolimnas anthedon wahlbergi (Wallengren)

Variable Diadem

130

55

Hypolimnas misippus (Linnaeus)

Common Diadem

128

56

Salamis parhassus (Drury)

Common Mother-of-Pearl

130

57

Junonia archesia archesia (Cramer)



58

Junonia hierta cebrene (Trimen)

Yellow Pansy

136

59

Junonia natalica natalica (Felder and Felder)

Brown Pansy

136

60

Junonia octavia sesamus (Trimen)



61

Junonia oenone oenone (Linnaeus)

Blue Pansy

136

62

Junonia orithya madagascariensis Guenée

Eyed Pansy

138

63

Catacroptera cloanthe cloanthe (Stoll)

Gaudy Commodore

132

64

Cynthia cardui (Linnaeus)



65

Byblia anvatara anvatara (Boisduval)

Common Joker

126

66

Eurytela dryope angulata Aurivillius

Golden Piper

128

67

Eurytela hiarbas angustata Aurivillius

Pied Piper

128

68

Sevenia boisduvali boisduvali (Wallengren)

Boisduval's Tree Nymph

126

69

Sevenia natalensis (Boisduval)

Natal Tree Nymph

126

70

Neptis laeta (Overlaet)

Common Sailor

122

71

Neptis saclava saclava (Boisduval)



72

Neptis saclava marpessa (Hopffer)

Spotted Sailor

122

73

Cymothoe coranus coranus (Grose-Smith)

Blonde Glider

116

74

Charaxes brutus natalensis (Staudinger)

White-barred Emperor

104

75

Charaxes cithaeron cithaeron (Felder and Felder)

Blue-spotted Emperor

108

76

Charaxes ethalion ethalion (Boisduval)

Saryr Emperor

112

77

Charaxes varanes varanes (Cramer)

Pearl Emperor

102

78

Charaxes zoolina zoolina (Westwood)

Club-tailed Emperor

108

79

Alaena amazoula amazoula (Boisduval)

Yellow Zulu

142

80

Pentila tropicalis tropicalis (Boisduval)

Spotted Buff

142

81

Lachnocnema bibulus (Fabricius)

Common Woolly Legs

150

82

Lachnocnema laches

Southern Pied Woolly Legs

150

83

Thestor basutus basutus (Wallengren)

Basuto Skolly or Basutu Magpie

164

84

Myrina silenus silenus (Fabricius)

Common Fig-tree Blue

182

85

Crudaria leroma (Wallengren)

Silver-spotted Grey

242

86

Chrysoritis natalensis (Van Son)

Natal Opal

226

87

Axiocerses tjoane tjoane (Wallengren)

Common Scarlet

188

88

Leptomyrina (Leptomyrina) hirundo (Wallengren)

Tailed Black-eye

174

89

Leptomyrina (Gonatomyrina) gorgias gorgias (Stoll)

Common Black-eye

176

90

Anthene amarah amarah (Guérin-Méneville)

Black-striped Hairtail

248

91

Cupidopsis cissus (Godart)

Common Medow Blue

308

92

Cupidopsis jobates jobates (Hopffer)

Tailed Meadow Blue

308

93

Lampides boeticus (Linnaeus)

Long-tailed Blue

262

94

Cacyreus lingeus (Stoll)

Bush Bronze

254

95

Cacyreus marshalli (Butler)

Geranium Bronze

256

96

Leptotes pirithous pirithous (Linnaeus)

Common Blue

260

97

Tuxentius melaena melaena (Trimen)

Black Pie

258

98

Tarucus sybaris sybaris (Hopffer)

Dotted Blue

264

99

Zintha hintza hintza (Trimen)

Hintza Blue

258

100

Zizeeria knysna (Trimen)

Sooty Blue

310

101

Zizina antanossa (Mabille

Clover Blue

312

102

Actizera lucida (Trimen)

Rayed Blue

310

103

Zizula hylax (Fabricius)

Gaika Blue

316

104

Azanus jesous jesous (Guérin-Méneville)

Topaz-spotted Blue

314

105

Azanus natalensis

Natal Spotted Blue

314

106

Eicochrysops messapus messapus (Godart)

Cupreous Blue

306

107

Euchrysops malathana (Boisduval)

Common Smoky Blue

304

108

Euchrysops dolorosa

Sabi Smoky Blue

306

109

Lepidochrysops plebeia plebeia (Butler)

Twin-spot Blue

292