Mysterious pupa with shiny silver spikes
March 3, 2010
We are in Lusaka, Zambia, living a bit out in the country. Today I noticed this jewel-like pupa latched onto a metal planter.
The pupa is dull pink with really shiny silver spikes along its case (almost like solder). The spikes are tipped with black at the very end. The length of the pupa is approximately 20mm.
We’ve seen a bunch of awesome bugs here in Zambia, but this one is particularly stunning.
Kim and Craig
Dear Kim and Craig,
We doubt that we will be able to provide you with a species identification for this beautiful Brush Footed Butterfly Chrysalis in the family Nymphalidae, but we are struck by the more than casual resemblance to the Chrysalis of the North American Variegated Fritillary, Euptoieta claudia, which is pictured on BugGuide.
Hi Daniel, Kim and Craig:
I think you are definitely on the right track, Daniel, and I may be able to advance this a little further. I think it belong to a group of Fritillaries known as Leopards or Leopard Fritillaries. The most common one, the Common Leopard (also Green or African Leopard), Phalanta phalantha, occurs throughout sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and the chrysalis looks very similar to this one. Although all of the images I was able to find showed a chrysalis with a pale green base color, I did find a reference to “whitish-pink” color variant. According to most references the larvae prefer to feed on willows but apparently they will snack on a large variety of plants. Having said all that, there is at least one other species of Phalanta in Zambia, as well as numerous other related species, which could have similar looking chrysalises (hard to identify from the internet alone). Nevertheless, I think Leopard is a good bet. Regards.
Update on Common Leopard Chrysalis
March 6, 2010
Hello Kim and Craig,
More on your most likely African (Common) Leopard . . .
. . . and its uncommon pinkish pupal morph (this from Taiwan):