Abantis bamptoni Collins & Larsen, 1994

Collins, Steve C., 2017, Observations on the biology of Afrotropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera). Part 12. New information and corrections, Zootaxa 4312 (3), pp. 471-496: 481-483

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Abantis bamptoni Collins & Larsen, 1994


Abantis bamptoni Collins & Larsen, 1994 

TCEC made additional observations on the shelters of Abantis bamptoni  on Uapaca kirkiana  ( Phyllanthaceae  ) in Mutinondo Wilderness, Mpika, Zambia, in January 2014 ( Figures 13–14View FIGURE 13View FIGURE 14). Observations were made on the first two shelters of one individual ( Figure 13View FIGURE 13). The whole leaf in situ in Figure 13.1 shows the site of the first leaf shelter, and the second leaf shelter. Figure 13.2 is an enlargement of the first shelter and surrounding area, with feeding damage mostly to the leaf surface areas, seldom perforating the leaf. The hatched ovum can be seen, adjacent to the hole where the shelter lid was cut out, and it appears that the shelter covered the small patch of surface feeding to the right of the cut portion, as there is evidence of silking over that area. Since the priority of the neonate caterpillar would be to make its leaf shelter, we suggest that the first feeding thereafter was on the floor of the shelter. The flap of the shelter is missing; this suggests the flap may have been detached by the caterpillar, since normally when a the first shelter is unoccupied due to the death of the caterpillar, the flap remains attached for a long time, and it can be quite hard to open it for examination.

Figure 13.3 is an enlargement of the freshly cut second shelter, which contained a second instar caterpillar. The edges of the cut are still green, as is the chewed material round the edge of the cut. Note that the caterpillar did not eat the chewed material. During shelter construction, the caterpillar is exposed and vulnerable to predators and weather; hence speed of shelter construction is the priority, and eating and digesting the material cut to make the shelter would have delayed completion. At this stage the flap has not been secured to the leaf surface, but already a tuck can be seen near the top of the flap in the figure. To make this, the caterpillar eats from the leaf upper surface (of the flap within the shelter) to weaken the underside of the roof so that it is easy to pull together with silk. It does not actually cut through the flap. Figure 13.4 is of the same shelter a day later. The flap has been secured to the leaf surface, and the lid on each side of the notch pulled together with silk (Figure 13.5) to form the entrance, and making the underside of the lid concave to form the shelter. The surface of the cut and the chewed material are now dry and brown, as is the flap itself.

The final shelter shown in situ in Figure 14View FIGURE 14 was also documented on the same occasion. Figure 14.1 shows the shelter in details and Figure 14.2 shows the whole leaf. A more or less bell shaped flap was cut from the leaf margin, across one major vein and hinged on a second main vein. The bell-shaped flap was then swivelled underneath the distal part of the leaf held with silk. Silk threads seem to have been used to make both surfaces arched, creating a pocket between them. There is a deep notch in the flap cut across the base of cut main vein, and at the internal end of this, silk has been used to pull the sides together, contributing to the arching of the flap.