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Common Name : Ceylon Lace Wing     -       Scientific Name : Cethosia nietneri       -       Other Name : Tamil Lacewing
Kudapatessa
05/08/2016
Kudapatessa
05/08/2016
Borupan Junction
02/21/2016

This is an uncommon species found in South Asia. Two subspecies have been recognized. The nominate subspecies Cethosia nietneri nietneri is endemic to Sri Lanka.

The conservation status of this species is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).

This is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

I have seen this butterfly at many locations in the wet zone including Sinharaja, Morapitiya, Bodinagala, Meethirigala and Badapaliyagoda in Allawa. I have also seen it at Nilgala, Arankele, at Ethagala in Kurunegala, Waulpane Cave and at the Halgolla forest in Dolosbage forests at an altitude of 1200 meters. The highest altitude at which I have observed this species so far has been at Bambarella in the Knuckles forest reserve at 1540 meters.

The caterpillars of this species feed exclusively on the leaves of the Poisonous Passion vine Adenia hondala. The Hondala plant is known to contain poisons substances. The caterpillars and the adult butterflies carry this poison in their bodies. Thus these pretty insects enjoy the luxury of conserving energy and flying slow as birds and lizards avoid preying on them.

This species can be seen at Wilpattu mostly during the months of February and May. I have observed their colourfull caterpillars feeding voraciously on leaves of its host plant in late February. This is a difficult butterfly to photograph as it seldom settles on leaves and does not engage in mud sipping. However during overcast days it can be seen settled on low plants some times with its wings open.