Saturday, August 12, 2017

Zebra Blue Butterflies (Leptotes)

Genus Leptotes in the butterfly family Licaenidae is group of species with intricate patterns on their underwings. Linnaeus encountered this genus and described as Papilio pirithous in 1767 in his Systema naturae. Later Scudder grouped two American species into genus Leptotes. Worldwide there are now about 25 species in this genus, distributed mainly in Afro-tropical and Neo-tropical regions, but the lone Indo-Australian species placement is a bit uncertain.

So far I met three species of these group. The first one is obviously the Indo-Australian species: Leptotes plinius or the Zebra Blue. This was in India, however it has a very wide distribution. I have interacted with this butterfly numerous times.   

Second species of the group that I have met is Leptotes cassius or the Cassius Blue. This species is distributed in Florida and Texas all the way down to South America. This butterfly can be seen around Plumbago or few other Fabaceae plants. 

The third species is Leptotes pirithous or the Lang's Short-tailed Blue, who I met in Haifa, Israel. When I saw both these species in Florida and Israel, I thought, "Oh the Indian species is here too," but then I found out that they are all actually different species which look very similar.

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