Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Lemon Emigrant
Catopsilia pomona  FABRICIUS, 1775
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Tribe -
Catopsilia pomona pomona f. catilla, Taman Negara, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
There are 6 species in the genus Catopsilia, including gorgophone from Australia, thauruma from Madagascar; pyranthe and 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.
Early 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.
The 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 pomona forms. 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 of year.
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, male, f. 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, f. alcmeone  Adrian Hoskins
The tall elliptical eggs are yellow and vertically ribbed. They are laid singly or in small batches on the foodplants.
The caterpillar 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 Butea, Bauhinia, Pterocarpus, 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.
Adult behaviour
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 Lantana, Jatropha and Catunaregam.


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