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Garden Acraea Butterfly

Acraea horta

Garden Acraea Butterfly, Garden Acraea

Acraea horta

by Zunaid. CC BY-SA 3.0

A photo of a Acraea horta garden acraea on a flower
Acraea horta, or the Garden Acraea Butterfly, is an insect from the Family Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies). A frequent visitor to gardens and parks, they can also be seen fluttering through woodland rides, basking on flowers in the dappled sun. Garden Acraea are active most of the year, although it's most abundant from October to April.
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Traits

Butterflies are termed beneficial insects because of their pollinating abilities.
Caterpillars will use Wild Peach and Passion Flower as the main food plant, but they won't do any permanent damage.

Appearance

Males: Display orange-red colouring on both the wings. A key characteristic of this species would be the translucent apex seen on the forewing. Where the orange meets the clear part of the wing, is a small black band. The hindwing has some additional black spots and a black, chequered border on the wings margin. Females: The colour dominating the female wings is cream, but they still possess the translucent apex. They possess similar patterning, as seen in males. Pupae: Cocoons are typically formed on branches, walls or rocks. The caterpillar spins a silken pad, to which the pupa is firmly attached. Pupae are pretty, coloured with cream and black chequering with orange dots. Larvae: Caterpillars are black, covered in radial branched spines (we wouldn't touch them without using gardening gloves!). In the warm season, caterpillars take around 5 weeks to reach full size. Eggs: The eggs are tiny, spherical, pale yellow and laid in clusters. They are laid on the underside of the leaves of the host plant.

Symptoms

They lay clusters of yellow, spherical eggs beneath leaves.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Nymphalidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Its distribution covers the Eastern regions of South Africa, and they're also present in Zimbabwe.

Biological treatment

It's not advised to remove these insects from the environment due to the range of benefits they provide to the wider ecosystem. Wherever possible, they should be tolerated. If these caterpillars are present in large numbers in the garden, they can be handpicked from plants using gloves and relocated.

Attracts

The larvae use Kiggelaria africana and species in the Passiflora and Tacsonia genera as the primary caterpillar food plant.

Wild Peach

Kiggelaria africana

Passion Flower

Passiflora spp.

Vine-Leaved Passion Flower

Passiflora vitifolia

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