Yellow coster butterfly predation

Yellow Coster (Acraea issoria) is a small radiant butterfly with ochre yellowish coloured wings belonging to Nymphalidae family. It has elongated forewings which are slightly translucent and curvy hind-wings. A. issoria is found in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Sumatra and Java. Usually this species of butterfly  inhabits mountain valleys at elevation of about 500 to 1000 m but they are also found in Landour, Mussoorie which lies at an elevation of around 2500 msl. During my field visit I found large scale swarming of Yellow coster butterfly in Landour, Mussoorie. The microclimatic condition of Landour has changed drastically within past few years with elevated temperature and rainfall pattern. The Yellow coster butterfly is found mainly along foothills. But high pollution levels and ecological disturbance of their habitat in Dehradun valley might have compelled these creatures to migrate to lesser Himalayas.

Yellow Coster (Acraea issoria)*

Yellow Coster butterflies have a tendency to keep their wings upright while feeding on nectar from diverse flowering species. Otherwise, they like basking under the sun near bushes, thickets and woodlots. The butterfly prefers roosting in areas where its larval host plants belong to Boehmeria sp., Debregasia sp., Elatostema sp. Lantana camara, Eupatorium odoratum, Pouzolzias sp. are good food sources for many butterfly species.  In Landour, Mussoorie, this butterfly species can be seen mostly along the south west aspect due to better sunlight and temperature conditions.

Butterfly life cycle has four stages i.e. egg, larva, pupa and adult. They have to undergo complete metamorphosis to attain full vigour.

Pupa or chrysalis of yellow coster butterfly (Acraea issoria) resting on wired fence

Yellow coster’s life is surrounded with many dangers during their entire life cycle due to predation. One of the common predator of Yellow coster is spider. They often use entrapment by weaving web to trap butterflies who get struck in their sticky net and slowly succumb to death. During field observation I found the chrysalis as well as adult butterfly entangled in spider web in wired fencing. Despite having green cover, the larva of Yellow coster chose wired fencing to metamorphose. Eventually, spiders must have discovered them and wove spider nets around them and ultimately causing death of butterflies. I tried to capture the spider through lens but unable to identify the species. There are many reports on spider predation on butterfly.

Yellow coster entangled in spider web
Chrysalis of Yellow coster butterfly
Chrysalis of Yellow coster entangled in spider web
Spider web to trap butterflies
Yellow coster on wired fence

Butterflies act as ecological indicators of a healthy environment. Besides they help in pollination of native ground flora thereby facilitating ecological balance. The melodramatic hues, colours, patterns and unique design of butterflies has always inspired artistic minds, poets and writers. These miraculous creatures of mother nature add not only to the aesthetic value to the ecosystem but also has morally uplifted many human souls.

Thank you!!


Picture courtesy

copyright @sumanmitraphotography

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Published by Dr. Chandrima Debi

Hi, I am Chandrima Debi. I am a Doctorate in Forestry and an independent researcher. Ever since childhood, I experienced deep-rooted connection with nature, forest and wildlife. I have written various research articles, case studies based on geology, forests, medicinal plants, biodiversity and conservation. Through this blog I share my experiences with nature and forests around us and aid towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity, wildlife and the values associated.

6 thoughts on “Yellow coster butterfly predation

  1. Very good article. I am living in Mussoorie since last three years but why this time the yellow coster butterfly swarming is in huge number. Any scientific reason behind this phenomenon?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Madam… I have observed microclimatic changes in Landour, Mussoorie due to elevated temperature and rainfall conditions. Due to pollution and disturbed ecology of butterflies in the foothills , they might have migrated to lesser Himalayas. Butterfly is an ecological indicator of healthy environment. I have mentioned similar finding wrt fireflies also..


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