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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Common Sailer

Afrikaans name: Reënbos-swerwer

Common Sailer butterfly

Common Sailer butterfly

Photo © Steven Herbert

Neptis laeta

The Common Sailer, sometimes referred to as the Common Barred Sailer, is found from KwaZulu-Natal, through Mpumalanga to Limpopo. It is common in thick bush and forested areas. It is particularly common near water courses. In warmer areas they may be seen all year round, but they are most common between December and May.

This butterfly has a wingspan of about 4.5 cm, with females being slightly larger than males. Male and female have very similar colouration. The upper side of the wing is blackish with large white bars. These bars are found on both the forewing and the hindwing. The under-side of the wing is brownish with white patches.

The Common Sailer has a very laid-back way of flying. They take it easy and seem to be able to float along with just the occasional flaps of their wings. Sometimes they fly in circles in a clearing for some unknown reason. The male is territorial and will sit on an exposed perch ready to chase any intruding male out of its territory. When guarding his territory, the male perches with open wings. This is probably a visual signal to would be intruders.

The larvae feed on plants such as Dalbergia armata (Thorny Rope Flat Bean) and Dalbergia obovata (Climbing Flat-bean).

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References and further reading

Butterflies of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Mark Williams - Year Published: 1994 - Page: 91

Butterflies of the Kruger National Park - Author: Johan Kloppers and the late Dr. G. Van Son - Year Published: 1978 - Page: 78

Familiar South African Butterflies - Author: Clive Quickelberge - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 25

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa - Author: Steve Woodhall - Year Published: 2005 - Page: 122

What's That Butterfly - Author: Steve Woodhall - Year Published: 2008 - Page: 722

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