This lovely little butterfly is easy to miss, but it’s well worth keeping an eye out for it in the vlei areas of Verloren Valei.
By Justin Bode
Harpendyreus noquasa, Marsh Mountain Blue, Moeras-bergbloutjie, as the names suggest, is a butterfly found in high altitude wetlands. That makes it another species that seems to have been designed for Verloren Valei. Marsh Mountain Blues are found in the grasslands of the north-eastern Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, Swaziland, and north along the escarpment to Mpumalanga.
The adults are on the wing from September to March and there are two main broods in spring (September to November) and late summer / early autumn (March). The males measure 17 to 23mm and the females 18 to 24mm, so this is a lovely little butterfly that can easily be overlooked. Their larvae feed on Alchemilla capensis, a plant in the Rosaceae family.
The wetlands on the provincial road are a good place to search for these butterflies. Stop near the bridge and explore this marshy area and you may be lucky enough to meet up with a few of these butterflies.
Little is known about the life cycle of this butterfly—there is much to be learned and citizen scientists can make a real contribution. Why not join LepSoc Africa and become part of a group dedicated to understanding these amazing creatures.
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, 2020