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Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Common Tiger
Danaus genutia CRAMER, 1779
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - DANAINI
Danaus genutia  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The subfamily Danainae, which includes the Monarchs & Tigers, Nymphs and Crows, comprises of about 190 species worldwide.
The Monarchs and Tigers belong to the genus Danaus. They are all large butterflies, characterised by having orange wings with black veins, a white subapical band, and a double row of white spots around the margins of the hindwings.
All members of the Danainae are thought to be toxic or distasteful to birds. Their bodies contain toxins derived from the larval foodplants, and are often supplemented by further toxins derived from adult food sources. The bright colours of the butterflies "advertise" their poisonous qualities to birds, in much the same way that the bands of yellow and black of wasps advertise the fact that they can sting. Consequently any bird that suffers the unpleasant experience of eating a Danaus is unlikely to attack any similarly coloured butterfly. Effectively, a few individuals are sacrificed for the good of the species as a whole.
There are 4 Danaus species found in Malaysia - genutia, chrysippus, melanippus and affinis, the main differences between them being in the intensity of the black markings, and in the extent of the white markings on the hindwings.
Danaus genutia occurs in Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, New Guinea and the north-eastern region of Australia.
Habitats
This is a lowland species occurring in disturbed forest edge habitats at elevations between sea level and about 500m.
Lifecycle
The eggs are laid singly on the leaves of Graphistemma, Stephanotis, Asclepias, Cynanchum, Metaplexis, Ceropegia, Gymnema, Marsdenia, Pergularia and Tylophora.
The caterpillar is black, marked dorsally with pairs of narrow white transverse dorsal bands, and rows of yellow spots. Below the spiracles there is a broad white broken band, in-filled with more yellow spots. Long black filaments with conical maroon bases project from the 2nd, 8th and 11th segments. These may possibly be used to disseminate pheromones, and may function to ward off predators or parasitoids.
The chrysalis is plump, rounded, smooth, and pale green in colour, marked with black dots and flecks of gold and silver. It is suspended by the cremaster from a stem, away from the foodplant.
Adult behaviour

The butterflies are usually encountered singly or in two's and three's.

They have a slow undulating flight, with fairly shallow wing beats, and patrol flowery areas, circling about around the tops of flowering bushes. Both sexes alight periodically to nectar at flowers, and usually keep their wings held half open or closed while feeding.

Late in the afternoon, particularly if it becomes cloudy, they commonly bask with wings outspread on bushes or on dry twigs. Cloud cover or lowering temperatures cause them to close their wings, and they then adjust their position to hang suspended from the twigs overnight. Sometimes groups of half a dozen or more can be found clustered together at dusk on twigs or branches.

Danaus genutia, female  Adrian Hoskins

 

 

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