Clark’s Lost Widow, another Verloren Valei special

Warren’s Blue is not the only butterfly species endemic to Verloren Valei.

A visitor to Verloren Valei in early summer is likely to be greeted by hundreds if not thousands of brown butterflies flying across the grasslands and around the hilltops. Most of these are members of the sub-family Satyrinae, the Browns and Widows.

Clark’s Lost Widow or Verloren Valei Bergweduwee (Serradinga clarki amissivallis) (Photograph: Justin Bode)
Clark’s Lost Widow or Verloren Valei Bergweduwee (Serradinga clarki amissivallis) (Photograph: Justin Bode)
Clarks Lost Widow or Verloren Valei Bergweduwee (Serradinga clarki amissivallis) (Photograph by Justin Bode)
Clark’s Lost Widow or Verloren Valei Bergweduwee (Serradinga clarki amissivallis) (Photograph: Justin Bode)

While the reserve is home to a number of species of Browns and Widows, Serradinga clarki amissivallis, Clark’s Lost Widow or Verloren Valei Bergweduwee (Mountain Widow) is worthy of special attention. It is endemic to Verloren Valei, and to date has only been recorded from the reserve—as the common Afrikaans name implies. For such a small reserve to be the only place that two butterfly (or any other species) call home is truly remarkable, and shows again what a special place it is.

Areas like this with endemic species are considered to be of particular value because of the role they play in preserving biodiversity.

Under favourable conditions, one can see dozens flying low to the ground but that does not make them easy butterflies to photograph as the have a habit of settling amongst the grass. The eggs are scattered on the wing and it is believed that the larvae feed on Poaceae grasses. They have been recorded on the wing from November to February with a peak in December and January.


Sources

S Mecenero, JB Ball, DA Edge, Ml Hamer, GA Henning, M Krüger, EL Pringle, RF Terblanche, and MC Williams (eds), Conservation assessment of butterflies of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland: Red List and atlas. Saftronics (Pty) Ltd: Johannesburg & Animal Demography Unit, Cape Town, 2013.

MC Williams, Afrotropical Butterflies, www.metamorphosis.org.za, 2016.

S Woodhall, Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa. Struik, Cape Town, 2005.

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