Monday, January 14, 2013

Plain tiger/ African Monarch (Danaus chrysippus)

Family : Nymphalidae
Sub-family : Danainae
Genus : Danaus Kluk, 1802
Species : chrysippus Linnaeus, 1758
Wingspan : 70-80mm

Location : Divulapitiya, Sri Lanka
Camera : Nikon D3100,18-55mm

Plain tiger or African Monarch (Danaus chrysippus) butterfly is a member of subfamily Danainae (Milkweed butterflies) of family Nymphalidae. It is a common and widespread butterfly in Asia and Africa. Similar to Monarch Butterfly, the Plain Tiger is non-edible butterfly and is well protected from predators. Therefore, multiple species mimic the wing patterns of these butterflies. One such species is female Danaid Eggfly.

Plain Tiger host plant

The local host plants as; Giant milkweed (Calotropis gigantea) (Local name; වරා) and Blood Flower (Asclepias curassavica, Asclepiadaceae) are rarely seen at the observed location. Have recorded this butterfly only twice may be because of the lack of caterpillar host plant.

Plain Tiger male butterfly
The male Plain Tiger butterfly has scent scales on its hindwing. Scent scales emits pheromone which attracts the female butterflies. The scent patch is white in color and has thick black border around it. If closely observed, the scent patch can be seen as raised.

The Plain Tiger butterflies have different forms depending on the region with slight differences in color patterns and markings on hindwing and forewing. The head and thorax is with blackish brown base color with white spots on it. Antennae is black in color and has orange/ brown abdomen.

Plain Tiger : Male butterfly
Plain Tiger butterfly often visits nectar plants to intake danaidone. As a result of feeding on milkweed plants, these butterflies and caterpillars are toxic to predators like birds. Therefore, the Plain Tigers are well protected from threats. Plain Tigers can be often seen feeding on saps exuded by Crotalaria spp. The bright colors of these butterflies exhibits their poisonous or distasteful qualities. 

The underside of wings are having lighter shades than upperside of both male and female Plain Tigers. The scent spot on underside of male butterfly is not visible in upperside.

Plain Tiger : Resting on a leaf
The Plain Tiger butterfly can be found in open vegetation and forest clearings. They have a undulating flight and slowly reach the destinations. After patrolling around nectar plants, it settles on perches and grass blades giving a good chance to observe closely.

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