Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Tribe - PROTHOINI
This large and magnificent butterfly is the only
member of the genus Agatasa. It occurs
as a rarity in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, West Malaysia,
Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines.
explorer and naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, in his book The
Malay Archipelago, wrote of it's capture at Malacca :
was one afternoon walking along a favourite road through the forest,
with my gun, when I saw a butterfly on the ground. It was large,
handsome and quite new to me, and I got close to it before it flew
away. I then observed that it had been settling on the dung of some
"Thinking that it might return to the same
spot, I next day after breakfast took my net, and as I approached
the place was delighted to see the same butterfly sitting on the
same piece of dung, and succeeded in capturing it. It was an
entirely new species of great beauty. I never saw another specimen
of it, and it was only after 12 years had elapsed that a second
individual reached this country ( England ) from the north-western
part of Borneo."
Butterflies of the Oriental Region wrote :
is truly a spectacular sight, but it's feeding habits would be
regarded by some as being gravely socially aberrant, to say the
least ! A famous zoo-geographer friend tells that while on the Mt
Mulu expedition in Borneo, he was not even permitted to finish his
toilet in the jungle with dignity. For while he was thus crouched (
having the previous day dined on spiced pork ), a strongly flapping
arrived to take boisterous possession of the freshly malodorous
The butterfly is said by Corbet &Pendlebury to
occur in open forest at low to moderate elevations. I have only ever
seen 2 specimens, one in the disturbed primary rainforest at Poring
hot springs in Sabah, Borneo; and the other in similar habitat at
Ulu Gerok in the western slopes of the hills in peninsular Malaysia.
On both occasions the butterflies were males, feeding at carrion,
close to waterfalls in dark shady forest.
The lifecycle is unknown.
The butterfly is very scarce and only ever seen
singly. Males are normally only seen when feeding at carrion, dung
or rotting fruit. Once settled the butterfly is easy to approach and
oblivious to the presence of photographers !
Ulu Gerok, West Malaysia ©