Club Beak

Scientific Name
Libythea myrrha
GODART, 1819
Specie in
Family
Libythea myrrha, Ultapani, Assam, India – Adrian Hoskins
Libythea myrrha, Ultapani, Assam, India – Adrian Hoskins

Introduction

Most taxonomists consider the Libytheinae to be one of the most primitive groups of butterflies, being probably the first to branch from the Nymphalid evolutionary tree.

The Libytheinae contains only 13 species worldwide. The 4 found in the Americas (carinenta which is found across much of North and South America; and terena, motya and fulvescens all of which are found on islands in the Caribbean) were transferred in 1943 to a new genus Libytheana. All of the Old World Libytheinae are retained in Libythea. These include one species on Mauritius, one in Africa, 2 on Madagascar, and one on the Marquesas isles in Polynesia. One particularly successful species celtis has an almost contiguous distribution from Portugal to Japan.

Libythea are characterised by having dark uppersides marked with orange streaks and spots, and undersides cryptically marbled in shades of brown. The angular fw apex is another feature common to all the species. By far the most characteristic feature however is the long ‘beak’ formed by the elongated labial palpi. The palpi are sensory organs used for the detection of pheromones, and are far more prominent in Libytheines than in any other group of butterflies.

Libythea myrrha is found in India, Sri Lanka, Assam, Burma, Thailand, West Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and western China.

Habitats

This species breeds in tropical and subtropical rainforest habitats at moderate elevations – circa 200-1000m. It is sometimes seen along roadsides, in quarries, or in village gardens.

Lifecycle

The eggs are tall, barrel shaped, and laid on Celtis tetranda or C. sinensis (Ulmaceae). The larvae are similar to those of Pierines, being green, cylindrical, and covered in a layer of short fine setae. There is a thin yellow line along the back of the abdominal segments, and another fine yellow line along the sides. The pupa is similar to that of Satyrines – smooth, elongated, and suspended by the cremaster without the use of a silk girdle.

Adult behaviour

Unlike the African Libythea labdaca, which is migratory and is often seen in vast swarms, myrrha is almost always encountered as solitary individuals. Males settle to imbibe dissolved minerals from damp rocks and stones in quarries or along forest roads. If disturbed they fly up and settle on twigs, where they are perfectly disguised as dead leaves, but they soon return to feed on the ground once the danger has passed.

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Butterfly of
Scientific Name
Libythea myrrha
by
GODART, 1819
Family
SubFamily
LIBYTHEINAE
Tribe
N/A
SubTribe
N/A

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