Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Catopsilia pomona pomona
Taman Negara, West Malaysia ©
There are 6 species in
the genus Catopsilia, including
gorgophone from Australia,
thauruma from Madagascar;
scylla from the Oriental region; and
florella which is found all across Africa and also in India,
Myanmar, Thailand and east to China.
Catopsilia pomona is distributed from Sikkim to Malaysia,
east to the Philippines, and south through the islands of the South
Pacific to Australia, where it is very widespread.
entomologists considered Catopsilia pomona
and Catopsilia crocale to be separate
species, but it is now scientifically proven that both are forms of
the same subspecies - C. pomona pomona.
There are in fact at least 6 different colour forms or "morphs", 3
of which are illustrated here.
various 'pomona' forms all have a pair
of silvery spots on the underside, in the cell of the hind wing, and
often have dark patches, these being most pronounced in f.
catilla. On the upper surface the wings
are whitish with a deep yellow flush in the basal area ( f.
hilaria ), or plain creamy white in other
The 'crocale' forms have wings that are
unmarked on the underside. The uppersides of both forms have thin
black apical borders in males, while females have a broad dark
apical area within which are several pale squarish spots. The 'crocale'
and 'catilla' forms are both
widespread. The various colour forms are seasonal - caused by
variations in day-length during the larval stage, but it is quite
possible to see 'catilla' and
'crocale' side by side at certain times
Captive rearing experiments by Yata & Tanaka have
demonstrated that each of the various forms can be induced by
controlling photoperiod and temperature during the larval stage,
indicating that weather and time of year are influencing factors. It
may seem odd therefore that the 3 specimens illustrated here were
all photographed at the same location in Taman Negara, on the same
day - 12th May - and that they all appear to be freshly emerged. The
logical conclusion is that the eggs were laid at different times,
and that some of the resulting larvae developed rapidly and others
much more slowly, thereby producing different adult forms which all
emerged at the same time.
Catopsilia pomona pomona,
hilaria ( left ),
pomona crocale f.
alcmeone ( right )
This species is ubiquitous, being found
throughout the year in open areas in secondary forest, along river
courses, on open grassland, and even in the hot arid deserts of
outback Australia. In Malaysia it occurs at altitudes between sea
level and at least 800 metres.
Catopsilia pomona crocale,
The tall elliptical eggs are yellow and
vertically ribbed. They are laid singly or in small batches on the
when fully grown produces 2 morphs, one being yellowish green
peppered with tiny black dots, and the other being pale yellowish
brown. Both forms have a broad black stripe along the side, below
which is a slightly narrower cream stripe. It feeds diurnally on
many trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in the
Leguminosae ( Fabaceae ), favouring
Cassia but also using
Senna and Sesbania.
The chrysalis is of
the typical Pierid shape, pale green in colour, with a thin yellow
line along the sides and a blue-green line along the back. It is
attached by the cremaster and a silken girdle to the underside of a
leaf, or to a stem.
The butterflies are
strongly migratory in habit, and can be seen flying in undulating
"strings" of a dozen or so adults, travelling up and down the rivers
which they use as migration corridors linking their high and low
elevation breeding sites. During these migrations both sexes, but
especially the males, can be observed congregating in large groups
on sunlit riverbanks and sandbars where they settle for long periods
to imbibe mineralised moisture.
Both sexes also commonly visit flowers including