Subspecies in India
Conservation and Special status
This species is not legally protected in India under any schedules of WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Photo Gallery and Species Biology
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands UT|
|Dadra & Nagar Haveli UT||1||1|
|Daman & Diu UT|
|Jammu and Kashmir UT||1|
Special Article: The Life Cycle of the Tawny Coster Butterfly – Some Observations
The Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore) is a common butterfly in the estate of the Theosophical Society, Chennai. According to literature, Passiflora is the preferred host plant for this butterfly. In 2010, we observed that female butterflies lay eggs on the underside of leaves of the wild flower Turnera subulata. The caterpillars feed on the leaves and the flowers of this plant. A plant which harboured a number of caterpillars was uprooted and transplanted to a pot, which was then placed indoors and closely monitored. One of the caterpillars pupated successfully and lasted as a pupa for 8 days before emerging as an adult. The adult butterfly was released into the garden after photographing.
To our knowledge, Turnera is not mentioned in literature as a host plant for any butterfly. Therefore, we believe our report represents a new larval hostplant record for A terspicore. Passiflora does not occur on the TS estate, whereas Turnera is abundant, suggesting that A. terspicore can adapt to a novel hostplant when its regular hostplant is lacking.
Although, caterpillars of various growth stages can be seen at any given time, we never found pupae on the plants despite repeated and careful searches. We hypothesized that caterpillars crawl away from the host plant to pupate as is known to happen with some species of caterpillars which travel as much as one kilometer before becoming a pupa. In 2013, we were indeed able to locate many pupae of the butterfly on an unidentified grass away from the host plant. This interesting behaviour of A. terspicore larvae pupating away from their hostplant needs to be investigated in more detail. Our study suggests that there are many interesting discoveries to be made about the natural history of butterflies in India, including previously unreported host plants and local adaptations of butterflies on different hostplants.
Le Doux, C. 1922. Acraeen-Studien I (Lep. Rhop.). 1. Die identitat der Acraea violae F. (Indien) und Ac. neobule D.u.H. (Afrika). Dtsch. Entomol. Zeitschript, 1922:297–316.
Le Doux, C. 1928. Acraeen-Studien III. (Lep. Rhop.). 1. Die nomenklatur und der formenkreis von Acraea eponina Cr. Dtsch. Entomol. Zeitschript, 1928:97–115.
Pierre, J., and D. Bernaud. 1997. Acraea terpsicore (Linné), problèmes de nomenclature et données biologiques (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Bull. la Société Entomol. Fr., 102:405–412.
Saji, K., Y. Gurjar, P. Kale, T. P. Alaganantham, G. Jaikumar, and K. Kunte 2023. Acraea terpsicore (Linnaeus, 1758) – Tawny Coster. In Kunte, K., S. Sondhi, and P. Roy (Chief Editors). Butterflies of India, v. 4.12. Published by the Indian Foundation for Butterflies. URL: https://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/acraea-terpsicore, accessed 2023/12/01.