Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
Tribe - THECLINI
subtribe - AMBLYPODIITI
There are 6 members
of the genus Iraota, all endemic to the
Oriental region. The commonest and most widespread is
timoleon which is distributed from
India and Sri Lanka to China.
Iraota distanti is one of the rarest
and most elusive members of the genus, confined to Thailand, West
Malaysia and Sumatra.
The male has a deep
purple sheen across the upper surface of the wings, and wide black
borders. In females the sheen extends all the way to the margins,
and is of a bluer hue. The underside of both sexes is ochreous,
marked with about a dozen silvery white spots, each of which is
edged with black. Both sexes possess a pair of short tails on each
This species is found in primary rainforest, at
elevations between sea level and about 300m.
The following lifecycle notes refer to the
related species Iraota rochana, and may
not necessarily be totally applicable to
The eggs are laid singly on stems or on the
underside of leaves of Ficus ( Moraceae
). They are bright yellow, bun-shaped, and covered in a honeycomb of
numerous small hexagonal pits.
The larvae are
shaped like medicinal capsules but with the segments slightly
corrugated. They are pale green in colour, and in some examples are
marked with a suffused reddish band on the 5th abdominal segment.
The chrysalis is
the usual plump and rounded Lycaenid shape, and is dark brown,
heavily mottled and marbled with greyish. It is attached by the
cremaster to a silk pad spun on a leaf or twig.
Both sexes of
distanti are extremely elusive
as they spend most of their lives at the tops of trees. Finding the
adults involves visiting places where it is possible to look down on
trees from above. Getting the photograph of the female depicted
above necessitated climbing a steep dam wall, from where it was
possible to overlook trees at the river's edge. The butterfly was
basking on a leaf near the top of the tree, several feet from the
spot where I balanced very precariously, holding a branch with one
hand, while operating the camera with the other. If I had lost my
grip or overbalanced I would have fallen onto the boulder-strewn
riverbed 100 feet below me and would certainly have been killed. I
do NOT advise anyone else to be quite so stupid !
Bukit Tapah, West Malaysia ©