Amauris echeria

Chief Butterfly, Amauris echeria, from Kakamega, Kenya. Photo © by Michael Plagens

Along a sunny roadway through Kakamega Forest, Kenya, Oct 2016. This one is taking nectar from flowers of Bidens.

The Chief Butterfly ranges across much of Africa south of the Sahara and there are many recognized varieties or subspecies with variations in color and pattern. Like other members of the subfamily Danainae the immature larval stage (caterpillar) feeds on toxic plants in the milkweed family. Instead of being poisoned by the toxins the butterfly sequesters them within its body and uses them as defense against birds or other insectivorous animals. Birds become seriously sick if they eat one of these butterflies, and after that they avoid them altogether - together with other butterfly species that resemble them but are otherwise edible. The mimic imposters often fly together with Amauris confusing even naturalists.

Nymphalidae -- Brush-footed Butterfly Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens. Page created 17 March 2017