Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - DANAINI
The subfamily Danainae, which includes the
Monarchs & Tigers, Nymphs and Crows, comprises of about 190 species
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.
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,
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.
occurs in Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand, China, Malaysia,
Borneo, Sumatra, Java, New Guinea and the north-eastern region of
This is a lowland species occurring in disturbed forest edge
habitats at elevations between sea level and about 500m.
The eggs are
laid singly on the leaves of Graphistemma,
Marsdenia, Pergularia and
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
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.
butterflies are usually encountered singly or in two's and three's.
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.
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
genutia, female ©