Gaudy commodore butterfly feeding on nectar, Curry's Post, KZN, South Africa Caption: Gaudy Commodore in summer (wet season) form feeding on nectar, Curry’s Post, KZN, South Africa

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM telephoto; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter speed: 1/4000; ISO: 800

The Gaudy Commodore (Precis octavia sesamus), found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 48 – 56 mm.

The Gaudy Commodore, amazingly, looks completely different in winter. In fact, it shows such extremes of seasonal dimorphism that the summer and winter forms were at one time thought to be two distinct species.

The pictures above and below show Precis octavia in its summer or wet season form. The photographs were taken in a neighbor’s garden at the end of December last year (mid-summer), using a telephoto lens.

As can be seen, in its summer form, the coloring of the Gaudy Commodore is pinkish-red with black borders and dark markings at the base of the wings.

In winter it looks totally different – the upperside of the wings is bluish-purple, checkered with black and a row of red spots. Sorry, haven’t got a photo showing the winter colors, so will need to keep an eye out for one in the coming months.

Gaudy commodore butterfly on yellow flower

Gaudy commodore butterfly (Precis octavia sesamus) in summer colors, Curry’s Post, KZN, South Africa




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+Scotch Macaskill