CAPE AUTUMN WIDOW III

It is that time of the year again when the season has changed. The sun rises later and sets noticeably earlier; there is a chill in the evening air and a crisp edge to the days. Autumn has arrived and so have the Cape Autumn Widow (Dira clytus) butterflies. This year they seem to be more abundant than ever: I counted over fifty of them congregated just above the lawn in our back garden this morning.

Despite their numbers, I assure you they are quite difficult to photograph as theyโ€™re never still for long. They flutter here, there, and everywhere. I have encountered them on our back lawn every morning from early on until about mid-morning, when they seemingly disappear. Fewer of them appear on our front lawn and I suspect this is because I have deliberately allowed a variety of wild grasses to grow round the back. After all, if I cannot grow vegetables during this drought, why not let the natural grasses take over and cover the ground at least.

The Cape Autumn Widows are dark brown with numerous eye-spots on their wings which are thought to confer some protection against predatory birds โ€“ although I watched a Fork-tailed Drongo feasting on them the other morning!

I mostly see these butterflies almost floating on the air, flying low over the grass. I understand the females do this to scatter their eggs, which are then attached to the grass stems. I certainly hope most of them have chosen the wild grasses, for our lawn will need to be mowed once more at least before the winter sets in!

25 thoughts on “CAPE AUTUMN WIDOW III

  1. This beautiful butterfly is very similar to our Common buckeye butterfly
    Scientific name: Junonia coenia
    It is most numerous in late summer and autumn. Most batteries are difficult to photograph. It can be very frustrating to get good photos of them.

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      • I smiled at your ‘batteries’ for a moment then realized your error: I thought at first it was a nickname for butterflies. The ones you mention are very pretty too.

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    • Thank you. This is a good time for seeing butterflies in our garden – I am not very good at catching them on the camera though, so I was fortunate with these ones.

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  2. I wonder why they are called Cape Autumn Widows? The eye spots are supposed to scare the predators away, but probably, the Drongo wasn’t one to be so easily scared by mere eye spots! Haha

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    • ‘Cape’, I suspect because their distribution is along the coastal areas of the Western and Eastern Cape. ‘Autumn’ probably because they are seen during March and April (which is our autumn) and ‘Widow’ possibly because from a distance they look black. This is all conjecture on my part!

      Liked by 1 person

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