The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Spotted Buff butterfly

Afrikaans name: Spikkel-geelvlerkie

Spotted Buff

Photo © Steven Herbert

Pentila tropicalis

The Spotted Buff is a small, but striking, butterfly that is found along the coastal regions of the area formerly known as Transkei, KwaZulu-Natal and then along the coast before heading inland to the north-eastern regions of Limpopo. Their preferred habitats are forest edges and well-planted parks and gardens.

These butterflies tend to fly higher during the heat of the day and lower in the mornings and late afternoons. It is most often seen flying lazily under the forest canopy. In fact, it could be disregarded as a moth. Sometimes they roost communally on twigs, but individuals may roost on twigs, plants, and other parts of the understorey of the forest. When perched they close their wings.

The male Spotted Buff has a wingspan of around 3 cm. The female has a wingspan of around 3.5 to 4 cm. The female has less black on her wings than the male.

They can be seen during summer into early autumn. They are most commonly seen in December and then again in April. I am not sure why these two months are significant. One of their main larval foods is lichen which they find on tree trunks and branches.

The Spotted Buff is a common species within its preferred habitat and is regarded as a species of "least concern" by the Red List of South African Species.

References and further reading

Ivor Migdolls Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Africa - Author: Ivor Migdoll - Published: 1987 - Page: 175

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Steve Woodhall - Published: 2020 - Page: 150

Familiar South African Butterflies - Author: Clive Quickelberge - Published: 1986 - Page: 38

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa - 1st edition - Author: Steve Woodhall - Published: 2005 - Page: 142

Butterflies of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Mark Williams - Published: 1994 - Page: 160

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