May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches,
Today, tomorrow and beyond. ”
Irish Blessing.

Coast of Purple Tip        Boysduval:s False Acraea        Smoky Orange Tip
Photos  taken at Leopard Walk Lodge by Janet Cuthbertson

What does a :  Zulu, playboy, highflyer, painted lady and policeman all have in common?  They are all butterfly groups!  and  visitors are amazed to see how many different species are easily seen at Leopard Walk Lodge.

Although habitat destruction is causing a serious decline of butterfly diversity throughout the world, there are still more than 110 species in and around our area and we are pleased that the habitat which we have restored and given back to nature at our reserve, provides a home for an amazing diversity of animals, birds, butterflies and insect life.

Various butterfly species mimic and co-exist with ants!

  • The female Trimens Blue, will lay her eggs on an ant trail.  The caterpillars release a pheromone that mimics the ants scent and sometime after hatching the tiny lava will roll themselves into a ball and allow the ants to carry them into their nest where they are milked for a sweet substance. During this time their scent allows them to bluff that they are the ant’s own lava. The twist to the story is that they like a meaty treat and they feed on the ant’s young without the ants realising this!   Eventually the caterpillars form a pupa and later emerge from the nest as a beautiful butterfly!
  • Other species such as the Hutchinson’s High-flier exist by living together with ferocious “soldier” Cocktail ants who viciously protect the caterpillars. The caterpillars release a pheromone which mimics the ant’s own alarm signal. When the caterpillars leave the ant nest to feed on vegetation this causes an army of ants to follow them and attack any predator that tries to interfere with the caterpillars! In exchange for this service, the caterpillars provide the ants with a sweet substance that the ants “milk” from them once they are back in the nest again.

From  the smallest insect and butterfly to the Big Five leopard, elephant and rhino buffalo and lion, Eco-tourists will be enthralled to view the many diverse life forms in our area -The Elephant Coast – which is recorded as being one of the most bio diverse  regions in South Africa.

For those interested, more information is available from Steve Woodhall’s wonderful book “What’s that Butterfly?  www.struik.co.za

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