A female Rajah Brooke's Birdwing. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin. THERE are an estimated 1,200 species of butterflies in Malaysia, in the Peninsula as well as Sabah and Sarawak. Of this number, I believe I have photographed just over 200 of the more commonly encountered species. Photographing butterflies is a hobby that I took up nearly 20 years ago. My movements are now somewhat restricted by my health condition but I still indulge in nature photography whenever "easy opportunities" present themselves.


Family Papilionidae

The Red Helen

The Red Helen (Papilio helenus) is a large, showy species which flies in open forest country near streams or waterfalls. Like the other papilionids, the males can be seen drinking at seepages or on riverbanks, either singly or accompanied by several other specimens, or even other species.

The Common Mormon

The Common Mormon (Papilio polytes) is found near gardens and villages where Citrus (e.g. lime, lemon, kumquats) is grown. The female occurs in two forms in Peninsular Malaysia: form cyrus which looks like the male, and form polytes which looks like the Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae).

The Great Mormon

The Great Mormon (Papilio memnon) is one of the most interesting butterfly species because of polymorphism of the female, which may be tailed or tailless. Only one true form of the male is recognised. The specimen shown here is an abberrant male which resembles the female form ityla.

The Common Mime

The Common Mime (Chilasa clytia) occurs in several forms that mimic danainine (milkweed) butterflies. This is form dissimilis which mimics species of Ideopsis, Parantica and Tirumala. The larvae feed on the leaves of "wild cinnamon" (Cinnamomum) which is cultivated as a roadside tree to provide shade.

The Tailed Jay

The Tailed Jay  (Graphium agamemnon), with apple-green spots on speckled brown ground and "stubby tails", has a distinctive appearance. It is also known as the Green-spotted Triangle and Tailed Green Jay. Like other papilionids, the males of this species can be seen drinking at seepages.

The Fivebar Swordtail

The Fivebar Swordtail (Pathysa antiphates) is another butterfly with a "remarkable" appearance; it has a long, slender, tapering projection from each hindwing which looks like a sword. In Peninsular Malaysia, this species is usually found in the forested lowlands.

The Green Dragontail

The Green Dragontail  (Lamproptera meges) looks like a dragonfly when it is flying. Its wings beat so rapidly that they appear as a blue haze. The partly-transparent wings and long, drooping tails give it an appearance unlike that of other butterflies, except the White Dragontail (Lamproptera curius).

Family Pieridae

Painted Jezebel

The Painted Jezebel (Delias hyparete) frequents open woods and green patches, sometimes venturing into gardens. Its bright colours and slow flight serve to warn predators that it is potentially poisonous. It is attracted to nectar-bearing flowers, especially those of the Indian cherry tree.

The Redspot Sawtooth

The Redspot Sawtooth (Prioneris philonome) is a forest species which is usually encountered in open spaces near water courses. It may be seen drinking at seepages together with other pierids and papilionids. It resembles the Painted Jezebel, but it may not be a mimic of that species.


Nymphalidae (Danainae)

The Common Tiger

The Common Tiger (Danaus genutia) looks like the Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) except that its veins are marked with black. These two milkweed butterflies are related to the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) which is renowned for its annual marathon migratory flight.

The Chocolate Tiger

The Chocolate Tiger (Parantica melaneus) is a forest species which is found in north India and Myanmar to Indochina and Sundaland. Although this butterfly is common, little is known about its early stages.

The Blue Glassy Tiger

The Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris) is a common "milkweed butterfly" found throughout Peninsular Malaysia and is believed to be the one of the species mimicked by the Common Mime (Chilasa clytia). It is usually encountered at the edge of forests or plantations and also in the countryside.

Nymphalidae (Morphinae)

Faunis gracilis

Faunis gracilis (common name n.a.) may be seen flying just above the ground in the forest, or sitting on leaf litter and low shrubs. It lives in the same type of habitat ~ well-shaded and somewhat dense undergrowth ~ as the closely related Common Faun (Faunis canens).

Tufted Jungle King

The Tufted Jungle King (Thauria aliris) is a large forest butterfly. When settled on the forest floor, its wing markings enable it to blend in with the leaf litter. On its upperside, prominent white stripes across the front wings "flash" to startle any approaching predator as the butterfly takes flight.

Nymphalidae (Nymphalinae)

The Banded Yeoman

The Banded Yeoman (Cirrochroa orissa) is the commonest species of Cirrochroa, of which there are six, in Peninsular Malaysia. It also occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Sumatra and Borneo. The life history of this forest butterfly is still unknown.

The Malay Lacewing

The Malay Lacewing (Cethosia hypsea) is one of the several Lacewing butterflies found in Malaysia. The fine, serrated pattern along the edge of their wings together with a combination of red, orange, brown or white colours make them very attractive butterflies.

The Peacock Pansy

The Peacock Pansy (Junonia almana) is a common yet beautiful species which is found in open country and gardens. It is one of the butterfly species that can be found in suburban areas. The eye-spots on the wings remind one of the markings on peacock feathers.

The Wavy Maplet

The Wavy Maplet (Chersonesia rahria) is a small butterfly (compare its size with a blade of grass) which settles with wings outspread. It is a forest butterfly with a feeble flight. But when frightened, it is capable of soaring quite rapidly to take refuge in the safety of tree branches.

Lycaenidae (Riodininae)

The Harlequin

The Harlequin (Taxila haquinus) is a medium-sized metalmark that inhabits well-wooded areas and may be encountered along forest trails. Formerly classified under the family Riodinidae, the metalmarks are now placed as a subfamily of Lycaenidae (with the blues, coppers and hairstreaks).

Lycaenidae (Lycaeninae)

The Branded Imperial

The Branded Imperial (Eooxylides tharis) is a striking, little butterfly with bright orange forewings and rather long projections on the hindwings that look like tails. This species can be found in primary and secondary forests, and is quite often encountered along forest trails.

The Common Imperial

The Common Imperial (Cheritra freja), like the Branded Imperial, has hindwing projections that look like long tails, and may also be found in primary and secondary forests. This specimen was photographed while it settled momentarily on a flower bud of the Simpoh tree (Dillenia).

The Common Posy

The Common Posy (Drupadia ravindra) is a small butterfly with a wingspan of about 3cm to 3.5cm (slightly more than an inch). It has a swift, darting flight. Like the three lycaenid species described above, it can be found in primary and secondary forest, and is usually seen along forest trails.

Chliaria othona

Chliaria othona (common name n.a.) has filament-like “tails” and spots on the hindwings. These resemble antennae and eyes that “trick” predators into thinking that part of the butterfly is the head. Should the predator strike at it, only the hindwings would be damaged, leaving vital organs unharmed.

Family Hesperiidae

Dark Yellow-banded Flat

A medium-size skipper, the Dark Yellow-banded Flat (Celaenorrhinus aurivittatus) has a wingspan of about 4.5cm (less than two inches). This species settles with wings open, usually on the underside of a leaf. I found this one on the top of a leaf; it would have been difficult to photograph if it was underneath.

Plastingia naga

Plastingia naga (common name n.a.) is a small skipper with striking wing markings, i.e. light-coloured streaks set against a dark ground colour. It is not common. Although this species has a fairly wide distribution, I have only encountered it twice.






INDEX : Insects   January 10, 2016 10:35:06 PM