The small salmon arab (Colotis calais) is a small orange butterfly found throughout arid regions of Africa and Arabia. The upper sides of its wings are deep yellow to orange, with distinctive black patterns at the edges. The undersides of its wings are much paler, with few obvious markings. At the rear, outer edge of the forewing there is a distinctive spot of black adjacent to a spot of orange (2).
Both male and female small salmon arabs bear very similar markings, although the male is slightly smaller and has a darker band of black running down the front edge of the hindwing. The orange spots on the female’s hindwing are also much larger and more pronounced than in the male (2).
The antennae of the small salmon arab are typical of most butterflies, bearing a bulbous end or club (2).
The eggs of the small salmon arab are typical for Colotis species, being long and thin, and laid in groups on a leaf of the food plant (2). The small salmon arab will lay about 30 eggs at once (6), and after hatching the caterpillars feed in groups of up to a dozen on the leaf (2). After pupation, which takes place on the same plant, the adult butterflies emerge and disperse (2).
The small salmon arab is found in arid areas (3)(4)(5). Like other Colotis species, it has a strong connection to its food plants, typically species in the families Salvadoraceae (tooth-brush trees)and Capparidaceae (caper plants), and is only found where these plants occur (2).
The food plants of the small salmon arab are of local medicinal and culinary importance (4)(5). For example, Salvadora persica in particular has been used by Muslim communities for many hundreds of years. This demand, coupled with deforestation, soil degradation and overgrazing,is having a profound effect on the population levels of this plant, and so in turn on the small salmon arab (4).
To control the threat to the small salmon arab’s food plant, S. persica, various management strategies have been suggested, such as the education of locals, controlled grazing and reduced access to important sites. This may help reduce the human impact on the populations of this plant (4), and go some way towards protecting the small salmon arab which depends on it.
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A pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates
The process of becoming a pupa, the stage in the life cycle of some insects during which the larval form is reorganised into the adult form. The pupa is usually inactive, and may be encased in a chrysalis, cocoon or other protective coating.
Larsen, T.B. (1984) Butterflies of Saudi Arabia and its Neighbours. Stacey International, London.
Larsen, T.B. (1984) The zoogeographical composition and distribution of the Arabian butterflies (Lepidoptera; Rhopalocera). Journal of Biogeography, 11(2): 119-158.
Sher, H., Al-Yemeni, M.N., Maarahi, Y.S., and Hussain Shah, A. (2010) Ethnomedicinal and ethnoecological evaluation of Salvadora persica L.: A threatened medicinal plant in Arabian peninsula. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 4(12): 1209-1215.
Rajesh, P., Selvamani, P., Latha, S., Saraswathy, A., and Rajesh Kannan, V. (2009) A review on chemical and mediobiological applications of Capparidaceae family. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 3(6): 378-387.
Ehrlich, A.H., and Ehrlich, P.R. (1978) Reproductive strategies in the butterflies: 1. Mating frequency, plugging and egg number. Journal of Kansas Entomological Society, 51(4): 666-697.
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