Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - MORPHINAE
Tribe - AMATHUSIINI
In the Oriental and Australian regions, the
subfamily Morphinae, ( which includes the brilliant blue Morphos and
giant Owl butterflies of the neotropics ) is represented by the
tribe Amathusiini - which also includes the genera
Thaumantis, Discophora and
The genus Melanocyma
includes just a single instantly recognisable species -
faunula. It is a fairly large insect,
with a wingspan of about 9cms.
butterfly occurs in Burma, Thailand, Bhutan and peninsular Malaysia.
This species breeds in primary rainforest at altitudes between sea
level and about 1000m.
There does not appear to be any published data regarding the early
stages of this species, but the following generalisations apply to
the tribe Amathusiini, and are probably applicable :
The eggs are laid in
clusters on the foodplants, which according to species may be palms,
banana, bamboo, sugar cane, ginger or other monocotyledons. The
caterpillars are typically cylindrical and covered in fine dense
hairs ( setae ). There are tufts of longer hair along the back, and
on the thorax. The tail end bears a pair of prominent caudal forks,
used to flick droppings away from the feeding site. When young the
caterpillars feed gregariously, and if alarmed raise their foreparts
to expose a gland from which noxious anti-predator pheromones are
disseminated. The chrysalis is smooth, and shaped like a plump
banana, and is suspended by the cremaster from woody stems.
Melanocyma faunula faunula, Bukit
Tapah, West Malaysia ©
butterflies are always encountered singly, and usually seen flying
around forest edge habitats or sunny glades. They have a slowish wing
beat, but fly rapidly over short distances, nearly always settling on
the foliage of trees at heights of between 4 - 8m above ground level.
Males show territorial tendencies, and are very reluctant to leave the
vicinity of favoured trees.
: this species is wrongly captioned as
in "Butterflies of the Malay Peninsula" by
Corbet & Pendlebury ( 1992 ), plate 18.