A Nigerian Naturalist Spots a Lifer African Map Butterfly! - Observation of the Week, 6/22/21

Our Observation of the Week is this African Map Butterfly (Cyrestis camillus), seen in Nigeria by @dotun55!

Adedotun Ajibade tells me that, as a child growing up in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, he was interested in gardening and nature, but his interest “peaked” when he was convalescing from an ailment. “I spent most of my time in a flower garden where I noticed plants and wildlife differently for the first time,” he says,

Diverse flowers and resident or visiting insects were observed. Birds with their calls were also closely observed, something I never really paid enough attention to. This refreshed perspective of nature provided me with a better appreciation of it. And seeing was not enough. I needed to preserve the memories of observations for myself and others, which inspired my photography, and I have not stopped ever since. My desire to explore landscapes and see new organisms sometimes sets me on dedicated eco-trips.

Earlier this month, Adedotun visited the Ise Forest Conservation Area (ranger station), which is part of the SW/Niger Delta Forest Project, to support filming by WildAid. During his downtime he rescued butterflies trapped in the netted camp areas and visited the camp pond where he noticed butterflies mud-puddling along the bank. Unfortunately the swallowtails flew off before he could get closer but 

I looked on the ground beyond where they were for other arthropod treats. And there sat a different set of butterflies - a few familiar blues, and 2 exotic-looking leps. The latter felt like beholding angels. I was star-struck.

I [at first] guessed they were day-flying moths. The fake eyes and small streaks at their wing posterior were notable. They lay flat, white wings parallel to the damp forest floor. I could not immediately make out any clubbed antenna, the most important ID means for a butterfly.

One of them flew, before I could reach for a mobile photo. After an unsatisfactory shot, the second specimen took off also. It fluttered about the vicinity, briefly resting on a peripheral forest foliage. I stood still while it eventually sat on the floor again, for a happy close up.

I shared the observation on iNaturalist as soon as I got out of the forest and got a quick ID for African map butterfly, an absolute new one for me.

A forest dweller, the African map butterfly ranges across a large swath of Sub-Saharan Africa, from Sierra Leone down to Mozambique and Madagascar. It’s known to spread its wings when at rest and its larvae feed on plants such as Ficus, Ziziphus, and Morus. Members of this genus are called "map" butterflies beause their wing markings resemble latitude and longitude lines.

Adedotun (above, in the Mbe Mountain Community Forest) is an aspiring professional biologist (his degree is in Computer Science) and started using iNaturalist almost exactly eight years ago. He currently has observed more species in Nigeira than anyone else on iNat and says that while lepidoptera, odonata and birds are his primary interests, “my focus shifts with new environments and their unique offerings which I often keenly look out for.”

He uses iNaturalist for ID help, to store his observations, connect to other naturalists, and to explore the world’s biodiversity. 

When I'm not on the field, I'm on iNaturalist sharing recent and old observations...Using iNaturalist makes me acknowledge that the world is connected by nature. Biodiversity is common to us all, regardless of region, race or religion. And every organism, no matter how mammoth, minute, or rife, is relevant in the web of life.

(Photo of Adedotun by Emmanuel Bassey of WCS Nigeria)

Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

- Checkout Adedotun’s photos on Instagram!

- Travel back in time to 2016 when a Common Glider butterfly in Africa was Observation of the Week!

Posted by tiwane tiwane, June 22, 2021 21:07


Congratulations @dotun55--what a wonderful find!

Posted by colincroft 6 months ago (Flag)

You perfectly summed up the feeling of seeing a new and beautiful organism for the first time! Just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing. I wish you many more amazing finds in your future!

Posted by lisa_bennett 6 months ago (Flag)

So very cool! Way to go!

Posted by erikamitchell 6 months ago (Flag)

all of us obsessive naturalists know that feeling! excellent description sir! and an amazing observation as well. keep them coming.

Posted by catenatus 6 months ago (Flag)

Wonderful stuff Adedotun -- thank you !

Posted by susanhewitt 6 months ago (Flag)

this is so exciting, congratulations! you summed up exactly the purpose of all of my trips outside now, be it 5 feet or 500 miles from home: eco-tripping!

Posted by ocean_beach_goth 6 months ago (Flag)

Fantastic! What a stunning specimen and a great profile story.

Posted by scotiaspinner 6 months ago (Flag)

What a great profile -- glad to learn more about a long-time iNat'r!

Posted by muir 6 months ago (Flag)

What a stunning butterfly, great observation!

Posted by toddburrows 6 months ago (Flag)

@dotun55 great pic and find!

Posted by ezeemonee 6 months ago (Flag)

That's a "WOW" moment. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

Posted by kitty12 6 months ago (Flag)

Congratulations on sighting this stunningly beautiful butterfly and achieving such a good photograph of it....reading how you feel about seeing it, and exploring the natural world, and seeing other people's comments echoing that feeling, makes me feel as if I have kinfolks all over the world.

Posted by ahelvie 6 months ago (Flag)

Amazing observation and great story; thank you @dotun55!

Posted by tkoffel 6 months ago (Flag)

What a great find and beautiful butterfly! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by naturephotosuze 6 months ago (Flag)

Well deserved, @dotun55, I'm enjoying every single observation shared by you as they are a testament to both your keen eye and your photographic artistry. Also many thanks for your numerous contributions to the AfriBats project!

I vividly remember my first encounter with this beautiful butterfly species mud-puddling in southeastern Cameroon - it's nothing but a stunner, especially if there's a clustered group of them!

Posted by jakob 6 months ago (Flag)

Thank you everyone. Comments as beautiful as the butterfly :-)

Posted by dotun55 6 months ago (Flag)

Great photo and story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Posted by mulcahyk 6 months ago (Flag)

@dotun55 fantastic story! I feel so connected and related!
Greetings from Mexico amigo!

Posted by aztekium_tutor 6 months ago (Flag)

素晴らしい! I'm happy to see you here. :)

Posted by harumkoh 6 months ago (Flag)

That tree is huuuge!!

Posted by bobby23 6 months ago (Flag)

Beautiful photos, and good story!

Posted by zneedham1 6 months ago (Flag)

Way to go, Adedotun! I've really enjoyed looking through your observations! Tremendous stuff!

Posted by sambiology 6 months ago (Flag)

Congratulations .. I too love inaturarlist and enjoy reading about others like me around the world. Keep up the good work!!!

Posted by butterflies4fun 6 months ago (Flag)

Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this!

Posted by lichenophile 5 months ago (Flag)

Very cool Ade!

Posted by daverogers 5 months ago (Flag)

Stunning butterfly and great story!

Posted by jcochran706 5 months ago (Flag)

It’s gorgeous! Great find and story!

Posted by jjmiller 5 months ago (Flag)


Posted by dotun55 5 months ago (Flag)

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