Phalanta phalantha

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Common Leopard
Common Leopard Phalanta phalantha.jpg
Phalanta phalantha in Bangalore, India
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Phalanta
Species: P. phalantha
Binomial name
Phalanta phalantha
(Drury, [1773])[1]
  • Papilio phalantha Drury, [1773]
  • Papilio columbina Cramer, [1779]
  • Atella phalanta
  • Atella araca Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914

The Common Leopard or Spotted Rustic (Phalanta phalantha) is a sun-loving butterfly of the Nymphalid or brush-footed butterfly family.

Field Characteristics[edit]

Mating with newly emerged butterfly from pupa in Hyderabad, India

The Common Leopard is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 50–55 mm with a tawny colour and marked with black spots. The underside of the butterfly is more glossy than the upper and both the male and female are similar looking. A more prominent purple gloss on the underside is found in the dry season form of this butterfly.[2]

Distribution and subspecies[edit]

The butterfly is found in Subsaharan Africa and southern Asia (including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Burma) in a number of subspecies.

  • Phalanta phalantha phalantha
  • Phalanta phalantha luzonica Fruhstofer (Philippines)
  • Phalanta phalantha columbina (Cramer) (southern China, Hainan and possibly Taiwan)
  • Phalanta phalantha araca (Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914) (Darwin)
  • Phalanta phalantha aethiopica (Rothschild & Jordan, 1903) (Madagascar, Seychelles, Aldabra, Comoro, Tropical Africa)
  • Phalanta phalantha granti (Rothschild & Jordan, 1903) (Socotra Island)


Widely distributed and abundant. To the tops of hills in Sri Lanka and southern India and up to 3000 m in the Himalayas. The whole of Subsaharan Africa.


Trying to mate with dead butterfly while Lynx Spider Oxyopes viridanus looking at the kill in Hyderabad, India
Phalanta phalantha on an isolated background

Sun loving and avoids shade. Seen in the plains, gardens, and edges of clearings. Has active and sharp flight movements. Visits flowers regularly especially Lantana, Duranta, Meyenia laxiflora, Gymnosporia montana, and thistles. Often seen mudpuddling from damp patches in the ground, either alone or in groups. A regular basker with wings spread wide open. It is commonest in dry areas and dry weather and absent from the wetter parts of India during the monsoon. It often perches on edges of clearing with wings half open and has the habit of chasing away other butterflies and guarding its territory.[2]

Larval host plants[edit]

Foodplants are species of family Bixaceae. It has been recorded breeding on Flacourtia indica, Flacourtia montana, Smilax, Xylosma longifolium,[3] and Salix.

Larval host plants recorded from families Acanthaceae, Compositae, Flacourtiaceae, Primulaceae, Salicaceae, Rubiaceae, Violaceae and specific plants are Barleria prionitis, Canthium parviflorum, Coffea arabica, Dovyalis caffra, Dovyalis gardnerii, Dovyalis hebecarpa, Dovyalis macrocalyx, Dovyalis rotundifolia, Flacourtia indica, Flacourtia inermis, Flacourtia jangomas, Flacourtia montana, Flacourtia ramontchii, Mangifera indica, Maytenus buchanii, Melaleuca leucadendra, Petalostigma quadriloculare, Populus alba, Populus × canescens, Populus deltoides, Salix babylonica, Salix tetrasperma, Salix warburgii, Scolopia chinensis, Scolopia oldhami, Scolopia scolopia, Smilax tetragona, Tridax procumbens, Trimeria grandifolia, Xylosma racemosa.[4]

Life cycle gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Phalanta phalantha, Site of Markku Savela
  2. ^ a b Kunte, Krushnamegh (2000). Butterflies of Peninsular India. University Press, Hyderabad, pp. 122–124.
  3. ^ Kunte, K. (2006). Additions to the known larval host plants of Indian butterflies. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 103(1):119–121.
  4. ^ HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants ( accessed on July 2, 2007.
  • Wynter-Blyth, M.A. (1957). Butterflies of the Indian Region. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India.