A stunning butterfly from western Africa, the flame-bordered charaxes (Charaxes protoclea) is well-named: it definitely looks aflame in bright sunlight! Seen from above, the lower central portions of the female’s wings are white-hot; the wingtips display a range of yellow-to-orange spots, and a strip of brilliant orange frames each wing. (The males’ wings are a muted brownish-black, but also bordered in fiery orange.)
From below, charaxes are much more toned down, colored in muted browns and grays with a single dark eye spot. Male butterflies are a subtle maroon-brown in color, while females are light tan, with a single wide, white stripe midwing. The different coloring on the wing patterns of each sex is known as sexual dimorphism, and is fairly common in butterflies (see our mocker swallowtail post for another kind of dimorphism).
Preview all the butterflies currently being exhibited at chicagobotanic.org/butterflies/species.
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