Coeliades libeon (Druce, 1875)

Collins, Steve C., 2017, Observations on the biology of Afrotropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera). Part 12. New information and corrections, Zootaxa 4312 (3), pp. 471-496: 477-479

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Coeliades libeon (Druce, 1875)


Coeliades libeon (Druce, 1875) 

During a six month stay in Minziro Forest, northwest Tanzania, in 1994–1995, TCEC found and reared caterpillars of C. libeon  , on Craibia  sp. ( Fabaceae  ) in December 1994 and Flabellaria  sp. ( Malpighiaceae  ) in February 1995. The only species of Flabellaria  is F. paniculata  , which is widespread in Africa and recorded from Tanzania, but only from the west (Kigoma) ( Tropicos 2015). Flabellaria paniculata  has also been recorded as the food plant of C. hanno (Plötz)  ( Vuattoux 1999, Cock 2010b). Because of a camera fault, all transparencies from this time were overexposed, and could not be printed, but now with digital manipulation of the scanned transparencies, the images have been partially restored ( Figures 8–9View FIGURE 8View FIGURE 9) although the exact colours should not be considered reliable.

In the final instar ( Figure 8View FIGURE 8) the head is black, with an irregular pale band across the dorsal part of the face, breaking up into spots ventrally, extending to the posterior margin laterally and along the epicranial suture to the posterior margin. Pronotum black, with a broad whitish anterior margin. Body pale with variegated dark and yellow markings; black dorsal line, narrowly interrupted between segments A 1– A 8; immediately adjacent a pale subdorsal line and a variegated darker area lateral to this; dorsolaterally a broad yellow line, more or less continuous in the upper half, but in the lower half, interrupted by a large black rectangular marking in the anterior third of each segment, separated into an anterior black rectangle, a white bar and then a dark bar posterior to this, and three irregular dark vertical lines in the posterior two-thirds; these dark markings are heavier on T2–T3, almost continuous on T2; there is a broad, black bar across the anterior margin of the anal plate, which is otherwise pale; laterally the body is pale, darkly diffused on T1–T3; a white ventrolateral line; spiracles dark, positioned in lower part of white lateral area; legs black; prolegs pale.

Cock (2010b) reported the caterpillar descriptions of Fontaine (1988) in Zaire and R. Paré from Zimbabwe (in Pringle et al. 1994, Henning et al. 1997), expressing concern at the apparent differences between the two. Now in light of Figure 8View FIGURE 8, it can be seen that Paré’s ‘lemon yellow with black chequering’ provides a reasonably succinct description, while features reported by Fontaine are also recognisable: a thin black longitudinal dorsal line edged on each side by a yellowish line; on each segment, a lateral pair of square blackish spots; thin, yellow, longitudinal spiracle line, bordered on the dorsal side with a wider, dark band; head and legs scaly black; prolegs yellowish. However, Fontaine’s reference to the upper surface covered with a very fine brownish down, and the dorsal region varies from brown-red to brown-grey are not clear. Nevertheless, we conclude that both published descriptions apply reasonably well to what we report here.

The image of the pupa ( Figure 9View FIGURE 9) is less satisfactory. It is pale with dark speckling which is quite heavy in some areas; the short, blunt frontal spike, T1 spiracles and posterior margin of T3 are dark; there are paler dorsal and dorsolateral lines on the abdomen. It is not clear to what extent the pupa is covered with a layer of white wax. Fontaine (1988) reported the pupa as having black veins on the wings, but these are not visible in Figure 9View FIGURE 9.

In Cock (2010b) it was noted that apart from C. libeon  , all species of Coeliades  and Pyrriades for which food plants have been reported include at least one record from a species of Malpighiaceae  . This record of C. libeon  from Flabellaria  is therefore significant. However, the generalisation is still not complete as C. ramanatek  is now reported from Cannabaceae  only (above).