Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 November 2016 | 8(13): 9568–9573





Records of Cigaritis zhengweilie Huang, 1998 (Lepidoptera: Theclinae) from Arunachal Pradesh, India and southeastern Tibet, China, and a note on Cigaritis elwesi (Evans, [1925])


Purnendu Roy


3 Gabriel’s Wharf, 56 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PP, UK



doi: | ZooBank:


Editor: James Young, Hong Kong Lepidopterists Society, Hong Kong. Date of publication: 26 November 2016 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 2243 | Received 22 September 2016 | Final received 08 November 2016 | Finally accepted 09 November 2016


Citation: Roy, P. (2016). Records of Cigaritis zhengweilie Huang, 1998 (Lepidoptera: Theclinae) from Arunachal Pradesh, India and southeastern Tibet, China, and a note on Cigaritis elwesi (Evans, [1925]). Journal of Threatened Taxa 8(13): 9568–9573;


Copyright: © Roy 2016. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: None.


Conflict of Interest: The author declares no competing interests.


Acknowledgement: Tipa Umbrey and all the people who guided me in the Dibang Valley. John Chainey, David Lees, Blanca Huertas and Geoff Martin for their help and assistance to photograph these specimens. Krushnamegh Kunte, for his valuable advice and for providing many of the images featured in the plates. Jo Lawbuary my partner for her love and support.




Abstract: A specimen of Cigaritis zhengweilie Huang (1998) collected from Anini, Upper Dibang Valley District, Arunachal Pradesh, India is recorded and illustrated together with a paratype of Cigaritis zhengweilie chayuensis from Chayu county, southeastern Tibet. Brief diagnostic notes on seperating this species from Cigaritis syama and Cigaritis nipalicus. A note on Cigaritis elwesi.


Keywords: Arunachal Pradesh, Cigaritis elwesi, Cigaritis syama, Cigaritis nipalicus, Cigaritis zhengweilie, Dibang Valley.




Cigaritis zhengweilie Huang, 1998 was first described from Arniqao, Mêdog (Motuo) County, southeastern Tibet (Fig. 1, site 1) and subspecies chayuensis Huang, 2001 from Lower Chayul (Chayu, Zayü, Zayul), southeastern Tibet (Fig. 1, site 4). I had collected a specimen of this species from the Upper Dibang District, Arunachal Pradesh, India (Fig. 1, site 2) in 1987, but misidentified the specimen firstly as Cigaritis nipalicus (Moore, 1884) and then Cigaritis syama (Horsfield, [1829]). Some specimens of C. zhengweilie have also been placed under C. elwesi in the Natural History Museum, London (BNHM) collection and I have written a note on that species. Recent field sightings of C. zhengweilie are briefly mentioned, together with diagnostic notes on this species and C. elwesi.







My specimen (Images 1, 2(3)) was collected on 28 July 1987 from near Anini (approx. 1,650m), Upper Dibang Valley District, Arunachal Pradesh, India (Fig. 1, site 2). The specimen is very close to the paratype of C. zhengweilie chayuensis (Images 1,2(4)) deposited in the BNHM (collected from Chayu, 1,800m, southeastern Tibet (Fig. 1, site 4) on 29 July 2000). In regard to the subspecies chayuensis (the other described subspecies), it also matches, namely, in size (chayuensis is larger then the nominate subspecies), under forewing discal band reaching 1b and the white scaling on the upper forewing (this scaling is in fact much more prominent in my specimen then the paratype).

Huang, 2001 also noted that the records of C. syama collected by F.M. Bailey (South 1913) were perhaps a misidentification of this species. I have located one of these records (Images 3, 4(2)) in the BNHM and it is indeed C. zhengweilie, but it has been placed under C. elwesi. This specimen was collected on 5 July 1911 at “Rima, Mishmi” (Fig. 1, site 5) around the border of Chayul Province, southeastern Tibet and Anjaw District, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Subsequently, this species has been recorded in the field by Binita Goswami (Varshney & Smetacek, 2015) from the Ithun Valley, Upper Dibang Valley District, Arunachal Pradesh, India (Fig. 1, site 3) photographed on 9 June 2013 and by Krushnamegh Kunte (Roy & Kunte 2015) from Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, West Kameng, Arunachal Pradesh, India (Fig. 1, site 6) photographed on 25 June 2016.

This species appears to be confined to southeastern Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh, India and the records indicate a flight period from June to early August at elevations between 1500m and 1800m.



In order to avoid confusion regarding terms used on the underside, please check Image 5 for a visual explanation.

The silver bands edged only in black, closely resemble that of C. s. peguanus (Moore, 1884) (Images 1, 2(1)). The species however is very distinct from C. syama and the following characters in external morphology are diagnostic in separating the two species:

  1. Underside hindwing: the basal streak in C. zhengweilie connects with the sub-basal spot in 1c. In C. syama the basal streak does not connect with the sub-basal spot in 1c. The basal spots tend to be more connected in C. syama and appear to form a more continuous band. The sub-basal spots of C. zhengweilie are also smaller and rounder and are more disconnected then C. syama.
  2. Underside forewing cell: in C. syama the basal spot merges with the basal streak to form a single distinctive “club” shape mark. In C. zhengweilie the basal spot lies at an oblique angle to the basal streak, even if it joins the basal streak, the spot and streak are both clearly distinct units.
  3. Upperside ground colour: the male blue is more opaque and purple in C. zhengweilie. Very noticeably different when compared side by side. Female C. syama is brown, while C. zhengweilie is bluish-grey.









C. zhengweilie also resembles C. nipalicus (Moore, 1884) (Images 1, 2(2)) and its allies and probably belongs to that group of species. The following characteristics in external morphology assist in the diagnostic between the two:

  1. Underside bands: the silver lines in C. nipalicus are indistinct and surrounded by similar ground colour (or rarely very pale pink) and then edged thinly in black. In C. zhengweilie the silver lines are pronounced and bordered only in black (occasionally a little ground colour filling may be present in parts of the bands). The black borders of the bands in C. nipalicus are on average much thinner, consequently the forewing basal spot consists of a thin black ring filled with ground colour, but in C. zhengweilie it is filled only with black and has a small silver spot.
  2. Underside hindwing black basal makings: usually very indistinct and blurred in C. nipalicus. This is a characteristic of only C. nipalicus it appears, clearer in C. zhengweilie and other similar species.
  3. Upperside: C. zhengweilie has no orange markings on the forewing in both sexes, while in C. nipalicus the orange is quite prominent especially in the females and only rarely absent in the males.



Males in both species are purple above, in C. zhengweilie the purple hardly extends beyond the cell and has a wide margin at the tornus. In C. nipalicus the purple extends throughout the cell, into spaces 4 and 5 and the margin is narrow at the tornus. Both female C. zhengweilie and C. nipalicus have bluish-grey colour above, but C. zhengweilie has no red patch on the forewings.

  1. The under hindwing orange tornal area: much broader in C. zhengweilie and extends to the dorsum in all specimens. In C. nipalicus it is much more restricted and does not extend to the dorsum.
  2. The forewing is also clearly broader and less produced then C. nipalicus.



A note on Cigaritis elwesi (Evans, [1925])

Evans (1925) in his paper on the “The identification of Indian Butterflies” notes that C. elwesi is a “MS” (manuscript) name of Mr. N.D. Riley. This manuscript appears to be unpublished and I was not able to locate it in the BNHM archives. Neither does there appear to be any type specimen(s) designated. The specimens placed under elwesi appear to consist of four species and include male specimens of C. zhengweilie. Evans (1925) keys do not fit C. zhengweilie in the following important aspects:

The female key for the upper forewing “brown, with a broad orange area” does not match C. zhengweilie females which are bluish-grey and have no orange patch. The male key also states “often has a small orange spot upper forewing“, while C. zhengweilie appears to never have any orange markings on the forewings in both sexes. I thereby conclude that C. elwesi is not C. zhengweilie. Evans’ key makes no mention of the hindwing basal streak that may or may not join with the sub-basal spot in 1c. This would separate C. zhengweilie from some of the other specimens placed under C. elwesi where the streak does not reach the sub-basal spot. In the original description of C. zhengweilie, Huang stated that he thought the chief diagnostic character for separating this species from C. syama, C. nipalicus and C. elwesi was this streak. This character does appear to be constant in C. zhengweilie and it is also a character that is present in the other members of the nipalicus group, namely Cigaritis rukma (de Nicéville, [1889]), Cigaritis evansii (Tytler, 1915) and Cigaritis rukmini (de Nicéville, [1889]), except for C. nipalicus where the basal streak is very obscure like all the other basal markings in that species, so it is not clearly visible.

I have included a plate of the specimens (Images 3 & 4) that have been placed under “elwesi” to assist any future researcher. Further investigation may reveal more specimens in the BNHM, but I have given my diagnosis for these specimens as follows:

Images 3, 4(1) #1718626, 03.viii.1933, Dri, Zayul, Tibet, 6000ft (1,828m). This is from the same area of the C. z. chayuensis paratype. The specimen matches the paratype of C. z. chayuensis.

Images 3,4(2) #1718625, 05.vii.1911, Rima, Mishmi, 6000ft (1,828m). On the border of Chayul Province, southeastern Tibet and Anjaw District, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Rima lies within Tibet, however Mishmi may indicate that it was collected within Arunachal Pradesh. This specimen matches the paratype of C. z. chayuensis.

Images 3,4(3) #1035657 Darjeeling, northern India (West Bengal, India). Very close to C. zhengweilie and in the nipalicus group, but differs from C. zhengweilie as follows: (i) Upper forewing red spot beyond cell; (ii) Under forewing and hindwing bands are narrower (in this respect similar to C. rukmini). Most easily seen on the forewing in the sub-basal and discal bands. The forewing basal spot is also a little smaller and squarer; (iii) Hindwing tornal orange more restricted and not extending to dorsum, its extent is similar to C. nipalicus; and (iv) Forewing shape more angular and the termen straighter almost concave.

As this specimen appears to be related to C. nipalicus the female is unlikely to match the female description of C. elwesi. This could be an undescribed species.

Images 3,4(4) #1718625,, Male. Gangtok, Sikkim, 5000ft (1,524m). There is a label bearing C. rukma. The original description of C. rukma specifies a yellow ground colour and the upperside of this specimen matches well with C. rukma. I have seen field images of C. rukma that are very similar. This specimen appears to be C. rukma. It is very similar to C. nipalicus, but may be distinguished by under hindwing basal spots being better defined, a lack of silver bands and the upper forewing blue is also more restricted hardly extending beyond the orange patch. It can be distinguished from C. zhengweilie, as follows: (i) Orange patch upper forewing; (ii) Silver bands obsolete; (iii) Under forewing basal spot filled with ground colour and not filled with black and silver; and (iv) Hindwing tornal orange more restricted not extending to dorsum, like C. nipalicus.

It is a bit worn which does not assist in its identification, but I am confident that it as per original label and is C. rukma.

In the following two specimens the hindwing basal streak does not connect with the sub-basal spot in 1c. They have black bands filled with silver. The forewing cell has a basal streak and a basal spot, unlike the single “club” of C. syama and therefore do not appear to match any other Indian species. It cannot be certain if the male and female are the same species, but I feel these specimens represent C. elwesi.

Images 3,4(5) #1035772 male. Sikkim June 1907 or 1901

This is the specimen featured in D’Abrera (1986). It could be very difficult to distinguish field images C. syama from this specimen if the forewing basal markings are not visible. In the black and silver banded form of C. syama the hindwing orange tornal area is very broad unlike this specimen.

There is also a label of A. ictis (Cigaritis ictis (Hewitson, 1865)) for this specimen. In ictis, however, the underside bands are not totally filled with black, the hindwing basal streak connects with the sub-basal spot in 1c and on the forewing costa is edged in silver below the sub-basal band.

Images 3,4(6) #1035806 female. Sikkim. D’Abrera (1986) states he could not locate the female, so it appears the specimens have been reorganised. This specimen also differs from C. syama in having an orange patch on the upper forewing. If we were to take that Images 3,4(5) and Images 3,4(6) to be C. elwesi it can be distinguished by the combination of the following key characters: (i) Underside bands black and filled only with silver; (ii) Underside hindwing basal streak not extending to subbasal spot in 1c; (iii) Under forewing basal spot and streak, even if joined, clearly still two elements unlike the single “club” of C. syama; and (iv) Female brown above with orange patch on forewings.






Cigaritis zhengweilie is recorded in India and has well-defined morphological characters that can easily distinguish it from other species. C. elwesi description and keys as per Evans (1925) are inadequate to determine a single species, hence that is why several species have been erroneously placed under this taxon in the BNHM collection. If Riley’s original manuscript cannot be located and a type specimen cannot be located, a type should be designated to sort out the present confusion.




D’Abrera, B. (1986). Butterflies of the Oriental Region. Part 3: Lycaenidae and Riodinidae Hill House Publishers.

Evans, W.H. (1925). The identification of Indian butterflies. Part VIII. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 30(4): 726–776.

Huang, H. (1998). Research on the butterflies of the Namjagbarwa Region, S.E. Tibet Neue Entomologische Nachrichten 41: 207–264.

Huang, H. (2001). Report of H. Huang’s 2000 Expedition to SE. Tibet for Rhopalocera Neue Entomologische Nachrichten 51: 65–152.

Roy, P. & K. Kunte (2015). Spindasis zhengweilie Huang, 1998 - Contiguous Silverline. Kunte, K., P. Roy, S. Kalesh & U. Kodandaramaiah (eds.). Butterflies of India, v. 2.24. Indian Foundation for Butterflies. [accessed 16 September 2016]

South, R. (1913). A list of butterflies collected by Captain F.M. Bailey in western China, south-eastern Tibet, and the Mishimi hills, 1911 Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 22(2): 345–365, (3): 598–615.

Varshney, R.K. & P. Smetacek (eds.) (2015). A Synoptic Catalogue of the Butterflies of India. Butterfly Research Centre, Bhimtal and Indinov Publishing, New Delhi, ii+261pp+8pls.