Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Tribe - LEPTOCIRCINI
Lamproptera ) are among the most
delightful and entertaining butterflies in the Oriental region,
being much smaller in size than other Papilionidae, and unique among
them in having completely transparent "windows" in the forewings,
and very long tails on the hindwings.
are members of the Leptocircini, a tribe which also includes the
Oriental genera Graphium and
Pathysa, the neotropical genera
Eurytides, and the European Scarce Swallowtail
There are only 2 species in the genus
meges and curius, both of which
found in Assam, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, southern China,
the Philippines, peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. The range of
meges extends further south and east,
to include Sulawesi and Java.
meges is the commoner of the 2 species.
It is known as the Green Dragontail because the upperside hindwing
has a pale green band, and the butterfly has a distinct greenish hue
when seen in flight. The other species curius
is rarer and has a white band on the upperside hindwing. Also,
unlike meges, it has a tuft of long
white androconial scales in the dorsal fold of the upperside
Lamproptera meges breeds in wet
tropical and subtropical rainforests
at altitudes between about 100-1000m. It is always found in
association with rivers, streams or waterfalls.
The larva feeds on Illigera (
Hernandiaceae ), and is dark green, speckled with black spots. The
pupa is attached by the cremaster to the upper surface of a leaf.
Lamproptera meges, male, Sungai
Tahan, West Malaysia ©
Dragontails are usually encountered singly or in two's and three's.
Compared to other members of the
Papilionidae they have a much smaller wing area in relation to their
body size, so whereas most Swallowtails and Birdwings have a very
distinct fluttering flight, Dragontails are able to beat their wings
much faster, and can dart from spot to spot very rapidly.
have a very fast whirring flight, and use their long tails as a rudder
- this allows them to stop in mid air and make very sudden changes of
direction, They can easily be mistaken in flight for dragonflies, but
tend to fly much closer to the ground. It is quite feasible that
Lamproptera have evolved to become mimics
of the dragonflies, and thereby avoid being attacked by them.
are found almost exclusively in the vicinity of running water, most
commonly at waterfalls or fast-running mountain streams. They can
often be seen filter-feeding - sucking up water to extract dissolved
minerals, while almost continually spurting it out in a jet from the
tip of the abdomen. While feeding the butterflies vibrate their wings
rapidly, but the activity is interrupted with irregular momentary
pauses when they are held motionless.
sexes can occasionally be found at rest on the foliage of bushes, with
wings fully outspread.