Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Malay Red Harlequin
Paralaxita damajanti FELDER & FELDER, 1860
subfamily - RIODININAE
Tribe -

Paralaxita damajanti damajanti, Taman Negara, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
The Malay Red Harlequin is something of an enigma. Butterflies use brilliant colours for a variety of purposes - to attract the attention of potential mates, to advertise their unpalatability, or to confuse, startle or warn avian predators. They tend to occupy sunlit areas where their bright colours can be shown to their best advantage. Not so with this species, which is normally seen only as a silhouette in the shadowy undergrowth, and where it's flight is so quick and erratic that it is almost impossible to see where it has settled.
The explanation for the striking appearance could be connected to the fact that insects can see well beyond the visible spectrum, into the ultra-violet. In semi darkness the butterfly is almost invisible to mammalian, reptilian or avian eyes, but the distinctive pattern and contrasting colours may reflect a strong ultra-violet trademark that could be essential to enable potential mates to locate each other.
The genus Paralaxita contains 4 species - damajanti, telesia, orphna and dora. There are 2 other closely related genera with very similar species - Laxita, and Taxila. All the species in these 3 genera are confined to Sundaland, the geographical region which encompasses Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Palawan and Java.
Paralaxita damajanti occurs in peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.

Paralaxita damajanti damajanti, Taman Negara, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
This species occurs in dense rainforest at altitudes between about 200-1200m.
The early stages appear to be unknown.
Adult behaviour

The butterflies are very difficult to locate, and invariably encountered singly. They are usually seen when accidentally disturbed while the entomologist is hacking through thick undergrowth, at which time they suddenly take flight and resettle a few metres away in darkness, on the surface of a leaf.

Females have a habit of hopping incessantly from leaf to leaf - in Taman Negara I found a female which was working it's way up and down the leaves of a vine, pausing only for a second on each leaf. This went on for several minutes. Females of many butterflies habitually fly from leaf to leaf "tasting" each leaf with sensors on their feet, trying to locate the correct species of plant on which to lay their eggs. In this case however photographs revealed that the butterfly was imbibing from the surface of the leaves each time it landed, and it seems that the hopping activity is a defence strategy aimed at birds or reptiles which would be unable to react quickly enough to catch the very active butterfly.



Contact  /  About me

Butterfly-watching holidays

Trip reports

UK latest sightings

Frequently asked questions

Strange but true !

Taxonomy & Evolution



Enemies of butterflies

Survival strategies

Migration & dispersal

Habitats - UK / Palaearctic

Habitats - Tropical rainforests

Butterfly world census

Butterflies of the World :

British Isles


Amazon & Andes

North America

temperate Asia


Indian subcontinent

Malaysia & Borneo

Papua New Guinea

Australia & N.Z.

Insects of Britain & Europe

Insects of Amazonia

Moths of the Andes

Saturniidae - Silkmoths

Caterpillars of the World

Butterfly Photography

Recommended Books



Code of practice

Copyright - text & images

Copyright - text & images






All photographs, artwork, text & website design are the property of Adrian Hoskins ( unless otherwise stated ) and are protected by Copyright. Photographs or text on this website must not be reproduced in part or in whole or published elsewhere without prior written consent of Adrian Hoskins / learnaboutbutterflies.com

Site hosted by Just Host