Chondrolepis telisignata Butler, 1896

Cock, Matthew J. W. & Congdon, T. Colin E., 2014, Observations on the biology of Afrotropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera). Part 7. Hesperiinae incertae sedis: grass and bamboo feeders, Zootaxa 3872 (4), pp. 301-354 : 328-331

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.3872.4.1

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Chondrolepis telisignata Butler, 1896


Chondrolepis telisignata Butler, 1896 View in CoL

One centre of distribution for this species is the Central Highlands of Kenya, but there are disjunct populations in the Teita Hills of Kenya, South Tanzania (Iringa and Mbeya Districts) and Nyika Plateau, on the Malawi / Zambia border (the type locality) ( Evans 1937, De Jong 1986, Heath et al. 2002). A single outlier specimen from Mabira Forest, Uganda needs confirmation ( De Jong 1986). Of the 242 specimens De Jong examined, all but 18 were from Kenya. MJWC reared this species from around Nairobi, but at slightly higher altitudes (Tigoni, Muguga, Ngong Hills) and Thompson’s Falls (near Nyahururu, Central Kenya).

Adult behaviour

In the Central Highlands of Kenya it is fairly common in woodland. Males and females can be found in open woodland or along tracks of more dense woodland settled on grass or low vegetation. When disturbed they often only fly a short distance before settling again. The white markings of the male underside are both striking and distinctive in the field, although females can only be recognised when at rest. Males, at least, will fly quite late in the afternoon, and when the sky is heavily overcast.

Food plants

MJWC has found caterpillars of this species on broad leaved grasses Setaria sulcata (= poiretiana ) (Tigoni Woods, 87/5) and S. megaphylla (= plicatilis ) (Muguga, 88/89, 88/103), a medium leaved grass? Cenchrus (= Pennisetum ) sp. (Thomson’s Falls, Nyahururu, 90/124, 90/126), and a quite narrow leaved grass, identified as either Helictotrichon elongatum or Ehrharta erecta var. abyssinica (Ngong Hills, 89/71).

Leaf shelters

The young caterpillar makes a shelter by cutting two notches from the edge of the leaf, and folding the flap created under or over; feeding continues to extend the basal notch (87/5). Larger caterpillars make their shelters by rolling the basal half of the leaf lamina upwards along the mid-rib. The pupa is formed in a rolled leaf, sealed tightly at each end of the shelter; the area anterior to the pupa is blocked with a loose waxy flocculence.


The young caterpillars, like many grass feeders, are green with a black head. In the n-2 instar the head is 1.30 x 1.43mm wide x high (n=5) dark brown to black, shiny; rounded, indent at vertex; scattered inconspicuous pale erect setae. Pronotum narrow, black; body translucent dull green, whitish ventrally. One penultimate instar caterpillar (88/89, Figure 28.2) had the head rounded oval; light brown with an inverted dark M on face, sharp against the adfrontals, but broad and diffuse on epicrania; posterior margin of head black, widening basally to stemmata. Pronotum narrow, black; body translucent dull green; dorsal line clear, bordered by yellowish suffusion; posterior segments tinged brown. Another penultimate instar (89/71, Figure 28.1) had the dark marking on the head more extensive, reaching the apices and vertex, laterally in a broad band above stemmata, and on the upper half of the adfrontals. The heads of three penultimate instar caterpillars averaged 1.74 x 2.10mm wide x high.

In the final instar, the inverted M on the face is characteristic amongst the known members of the genus (Figures 28.3–4). The following is based primarily on caterpillar 88/89 (Figure 28.3), which measured 16mm at the time; head 2.1 x 2.65mm wide x high (n=5); ground colour light brown; posterior margin dark, widening to stemmata; dark, inverted M shape on face: narrowly dark each side of epicranial suture from below vertex, extending externally to half way down adfrontals, and from lower end a vertical line on epicranium to well short of apex. Body translucent; green with a tinge of orange dorsally, stronger in a corrugated section on posterior margin of each segment; A1–A9 a single black dorsolateral dot on each segment; dorsal line A1–A9 clear, dark and conspicuous; anal plate semi-circular with scattered pale setae; ventrum paler; legs and spiracles concolorous with body. The penultimate and final instars took 10 and 20 days respectively under Nairobi conditions.


The following is based on pupa 89/71 ( Figure 29 View FIGURE 29 ): 19 mm; ground colour light brown, head and dorsal thorax darker; a small, dark, slightly down-curved frontal projection of 0.6mm; brown cremaster broad and rounded, not attached to lining of shelter; brown proboscis sheath extends 3–6mm beyond the wing cases, in the latter case just short of cremaster; T1 spiracle dark brown, conspicuous; dark stripe through eye; tufts of brown setae around cremaster; head and prothorax with white waxy bloom. The pupal period took 18 days; female 89/71 was noted to emerge at 07.30h.













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