Butterflies are delicate, aesthetic beings that colour our lives with their presence. Yet some species are stouter and quite die-hard. The males fiercely defend their territories from butterflies, other insects and sometimes even humans, dive bombing and flying directly at the intruder.
One of these power bodies is the foxy charaxes. The foxy charaxes falls under the family Nymphalidae and is subdivided into the sub-family Charaxinae or Charaxes. The charaxes are the fastest and most robust butterflies. Foxy charaxes – Charaxes jasius saturnus (Butler) 1865
EXPLANATION OF THE BUTTERFLY NAME:
Charaxes: Dr Martin Kruger of the Transvaal Museum explains it as follows: "Charaxes: to make sharp or pointed: from the pointed ‘tails' on the hind wing." Mr Taylor of Wales, a theology graduate from Oxford, is of the opinion that Charaxes "could connect with charax, which means ‘a sharp stake', or charaxis, which means a ‘notch' or ‘incision'" – probably referring to the sharply notched tails.
Jasius: (Spelt Iasius in original Latin) was a Cretan whom Ceres fell in love with. He was an Argive king and the father of Atalanta. Iasius is synonymous to Iasion. (Jason) Saturnus: It is derived from Saturn, the planet or the mythical king of Latium where he was the god of cultivation of plants and bringer of civilisation. He is the father of Jupiter.
He was also considered a Roman god that ruled the Earth in a golden age gone past and regarded as "the Sower". Foxy Charaxes: It probably got its name because it is so cunning on the wing. It is able to duck, dodge and dive with incredible agility – but this is true of all the Charaxes species.
ABOUT THE BUTTERFLY: LIFE HISTORY:
A solitary, round creamy yellow egg is laid on the larval foodplant. As development proceeds a brick-red circle is formed on the upperside. The first instar (adult growth stage) is beige with a dark head and two cream-coloured protrusions on the tail.
The final instar is grass green with two elliptical dorsal markings and has a row of pale lateral dots along the sides. The green larva has a head-shield with longer central horns than lateral ones. The green pupa hangs inverted from its cremastral hooks (shiny spikes that form at the rear end of the pupa) attached to a twig or foliage.
Males are attracted to decaying animal carcasses, animal faeces, wet mud and sap from damaged trees. The foxy charaxes has 18 recorded larval hostplants and will thus be very well distributed and quite common, if not slow. The sexes are similar and the female has less hair on the reduced forelegs, but is more robust. It is as comfortable at forest edges as in arid savanna – even dry mopane veld, which is one of its food plants. It flies all year, yet is more abundant in the warmer months of the year. Cycle Duration: Egg – seven days.
The foxy charaxes is found throughout the KNP and it is rather common during summer.