New records of Athyma whitei Tytler, 1940 (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Limenitidinae) from northeastern India: a recently reported species from India
Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi
Bokakhat East Dagaon, District Golaghat, Assam 785612, India
The Nymphalid butterfly TytlerÕs Sergeant Athyma whitei was first described from a single male specimen caught from Fort White, Chin Hills, western Myanmar (Tytler 1940). Since then, it has been known from Myanmar, northern Thailand, southern Vietnam, Hainan and China (Inayoshi 2012). The species is sighted from Fujian and Guangxi, China in recent literature (Lang 2012). The taxon was not reported from India until 2012. The sighting from Phura, Mara Autonomous District Council, southern Mizoram in northeastern India is the first record of the species within the political boundary of India (http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/144-athyma/athyma-whitei).
This paper reports four more sighting of the species from India on the basis of one male photographed on 13 March 2013 from Lakhicerra Stream of North Cachar, southern Assam (24058Õ20.20ÕÕN & 92046Õ015ÕÕE) at an elevation of around 29m and subsequent record of the species in 11 December 2013 at an elevation of 46m just half kilometer away from the first sighting (Images 1–5). Two individuals were recorded during February and March respectively in nearby Sonapur area of E. Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya (R. Goswami pers. comm. 2013).
The species was seen mud-puddling on the wet rocks of the stream during all the occasions. During the first record, the species was seen with open wing, closing for a minute or so and again with an open wing. The species was seen undertaking weak flights while mud-puddling. The same phenomenon recorded again, but the species was also seen settling on tree leaves and then disappearing in the bushes.
Tytler (1940) originally treated A. whitei as a subspecies of A. zeroca from Chin Hills, differing considerably from A. zeroca of Naga Hills and Manipur. A. zeroca has a prominent pale band which is broader and edged broadly with greyish-blue colour, while the underside forewing has two very narrow apical spots, and there are three dark vertical lines connecting this area with the lower edge of the cell. However, in the specimens of A. zeroca encountered by the author, the apical spots are very narrow like A. whitei or sullied. The Thailand specimens appear to have broad apical spots (http://yutaka.it-n.jp/lim1/720640050.html). The white discal band of A. zeroca is also very variable in northeastern India, sometimes very narrow but sometimes a little broader, but not very broad as that of A. whitei. The female of the species is not yet described.
However, it is still unclear whether A. whitei is a good species or a hybrid. Recently, it has been treated as a distinct species (Kunte & Saito 2013). A. whitei has three dark vertical lines in the lower edge of cell in the underside of forewing but these lines are absent in A. zeroca. A. selenophora also has three dark lines in both upper and lower edge of cell and are visible from upperside also but not so in case of A. whitei. Therefore, it is not a subspecies of A. zeroca. However, Inayoshi (2012) suggests that it could be a hybrid between selenophora and zeroca or even a distinct species (Inayoshi 2012) (Images 6–9). The species also undergoes seasonal variation (Shizuya et al. 2011). In northeastern India, the occurance of A. whitei was not suprising in southern Mizoram as the record is only 137km away from Fort White, Myanmar, where the taxon was originally described. However, the new records from N.C. Hills are approximately 223km away from the type locality and hence quiet significant and this record gives an insight into the distribution range and habitat of this rare taxon in northeastern India. And since the species occur in N.C. Hills, it could be found in E. Jaintia Hills since these are adjacent areas.
Inayoshi, Y. (2012). A Check List of Butterflies in Indo-China (chiefly from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam). http://yutaka.it-n.jp/lim1/720640050.html. (Accessed 08 May 2013)
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