Aeropetes tulbaghia (Table mountain
beauty, Mountain pride)
> Eukaryotes >
Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa >
Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Phylum:
Arthopoda > Mandibulata >
Atelocerata > Panhexapoda >
> Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota >
Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola > Holometabola > Panorpida >
Amphiesmenoptera > Lepidoptera (moths
and butterflies) > Glossata > Coelolepida > Myoglossata > Neolepidoptera >
Heteroneura > Ditrysia >
Apoditrysia > Obtectomera >
(butterflies) > Superfamily: Papilionoidea > Family:
Nymphalidae > Subfamily: Satyrinae > Genus: Aeropetes
- It is the
largest satyrine (Brown) butterfly in
Distribution and habitat
The Mountain beauty is
found mainly in moutainous areas from the
Cape Peninsula right up through the
Drakensberg mountains to the Nyanga
Mountains in eastern Zimbabwe.
are scattered around among grass by
the female while settled, and hatch
after 9-13 days.
- Larvae feed on grasses and pass
through 6 instars, with the final instar
measuring 60-65 mm. Early instars feed
on the grass day and night but larger
larvae shelter at the base by day and
feed on the grass by night.
- The pupa is about 27mm long and is suspended head
downwards by the cremastral hooks at
the end of the abdomen, presumably
on the side of a rock.
- The adult butterfly emerges from the
pupa. The female needs to mate and lay
eggs. Butterflies are able to prolong
their lifespan by feeding on nectar from
flowers. There are a number of plants in
both fynbos and montane grasslands that
have red flowers, specially adapted for
pollination by Aeropetes tulbaghia. The
Red disa Disa uniflora, is the
most familiar example but there are many
others (see list below)
- There are two broods
per year: (1) eggs are laid in
autumn, hatch and the larvae develop through
the winter months, pupate and emerge
as adults in spring and early summer; (2)
the adult females of the winter generation
lay eggs from spring to early summer and
produce larvae that develop fast under the
warm summer conditions. They pupate
and emerge in late summer and autumn to lay
eggs of the winter generation.
flowers of the following species,
pollinating them in the process:
Host plants of larvae
Derivation of name
The genus name.
People, including authors, often refer to
the Mountain Beauty erroneously as
Meneris tulbaghia rather than
Aeropetes tulbaghia. How did this
1764 described the species as
1820 evidently created the genus
Aeropetes to hold Papilio
tulbaghia and a castniid moth (i.e.
he was pretty incompetent as a
taxonomist) but he did not select a type
species for the genus so the genus was
1844 described the genus
Meneris for which the type species
was Papilio tulbaghia (by
monotypy, i.e. it was the type species
because it was the only species included
under this genus by Doubleday).
Hemming cleared up the mess in the
genus Aeropetes by selecting (by
subsequent designation) Papilio
tulbaghia as the type species for
this genus rather than the moth. As this
genus was created earlier than
Meneris it is therefore the valid
genus for the Mountain beauty. If
Hemming had selected the moth as the
type species of Aeropetes, then
Meneris would have become the
valid genus name for this butterfly.
The species name.
Claassens & Dickson (1980): "The
butterfly was named after Ryk Tulbagh,
governor of the Cape from 1751 until his
death in 1771. He shared the prevalent
general passion for natural history,
particularly botany. Tulbagh sent plants and
insects, not necessarily collected by
himself, to Linnaeus in Sweden and to other
famous authorities in Europe. The Mountain
Pride must have been in one of those
collections and Linnaeus promptly named this
'exotic' species after the Governor."
Ackery, P.R., Smith,
C.R. and Vane-Wright, R.I. 1995.
Carcasson's African Butterflies. An
Annotated Catalogue of the Papilionoidea
and Hesperioidea of the Afrotropical
Region. CSIRO, Australia.
Claassens, A.J.M. & Dickson, C.G.C. 1980.
The Butterflies of the Table Mountain
Range. C. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
Johnson S.D. and Bond
W.J. 1994. Red flowers and butterfly
pollination in the fynbos of South
Africa. pp. 137-148 in M. Arianoutsou
and R. Groves (editors), Plant Animal
Interactions in Mediterranean-type
Ecosystems. Kluwer Academic Press,
van Son, G. 1955. The
Butterflies of Southern Africa. Part II.
Nymphalidae: Danainae and Satyrinae.
Transvaal Museum Memoir No. 8. Transvaal