Suni-Ridge is situated in an area that is regarded as a species-rich  ‘butterfly hotspot’ with many rarities.

Steve Woodall, president of the Lepidopterists’ Society of South Africa

‘The False Bay area of Zululand (where Suni Ridge is situated) is very rich in butterfly species and is regarded as a ‘butterfly hotspot’. As well as the many brightly coloured whites, tips, swallowtails etc that are found all along our east coast, it has four special red-list rarities. In addition it has a selection of iconic Zululand butterflies. Lepidopterists know the area well, and it has been a Mecca for them dating back to David Swanepoel in the 1950’s, and even earlier. Despite extensive habitat destruction by agriculture, it remains an important locality with significant areas of well-preserved Sand Forest and coastal bush.”

There are many brightly coloured whites, tips, swallowtails etc that are found all along our east coast.

These are:

White Mimic Ornipholidotos peucetia penningtoni

Zulu Buff Teriomima zuluana

Coastal Hairstreak Hypolycaena lochmophila

White-spotted Sapphire Iolaus lulua

There are also some iconic Zululand butterflies in the area:

Gold-banded Forester, Euphaedra neophron

Forest Queen, Charaxes wakefieldi

Natal Yellow-banded Sapphire, Iolaus diametra natalica

Zulu Shadefly, Coenyra hebe

Black-and-Orange Playboy, Deudorix dariaves

Brilliant Gem, Chloroselas pseudozeritis

Mamba Swordtail, Graphium colonna

” May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches,
Today, tomorrow and beyond. ”
Irish Blessing.

Coast of Purple Tip        Boisduval’s False Acraea        Smoky Orange Tip
Photos  taken at Suni-Ridge by Janet Cuthbertson

What does a Zulu, playboy, highflyer, painted lady and policeman all have in common?  They are all butterfly groups!  Visitors are amazed to see how many different species are easily seen at Suni-Ridge

Although habitat destruction is causing a serious decline of butterfly diversity throughout the world, there are still more than 110 species in and around our area and we are pleased that the habitat which we have restored and given back to nature at our reserve, provides a home for an amazing diversity of animals, birds, butterflies and insect life.


Various butterfly species mimic and co-exist with ants!

  • The female Trimens Blue, will lay her eggs on an ant trail.  The caterpillars release a pheromone that mimics the ants scent and sometime after hatching the tiny lava will roll themselves into a ball and allow the ants to carry them into their nest where they are milked for a sweet substance. During this time their scent allows them to bluff that they are the ant’s own lava. The twist to the story is that they like a meaty treat and they feed on the ant’s young without the ants realising this!   Eventually the caterpillars form a pupa and later emerge from the nest as a beautiful butterfly!
  • Other species such as the Hutchinson’s High-flier exist by living together with ferocious “soldier” Cocktail ants who viciously protect the caterpillars. The caterpillars release a pheromone which mimics the ant’s own alarm signal. When the caterpillars leave the ant nest to feed on vegetation this causes an army of ants to follow them and attack any predator that tries to interfere with the caterpillars! In exchange for this service, the caterpillars provide the ants with a sweet substance that the ants “milk” from them once they are back in the nest again.

From the smallest insect and butterfly to the Big Five leopard, elephant and rhino buffalo and lion, Eco-tourists will be enthralled to view the many diverse life forms in our area -The Elephant Coast – which is recorded as being one of the most biodiverse regions in South Africa.

For those interested, more information is available from Steve Woodhall’s wonderful book “What’s That Butterfly?