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Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Dark Blue Tiger
Tirumala septentrionis  BUTLER, 1874
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - DANAINI
Tirumala septentrionis male, Buxa, West Bengal, India  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The subfamily Danainae comprises of 3 tribes: the neotropical Ithomiini, the Tellervini of Papua New Guinea, and the Danaini which have representatives worldwide. The Danaini includes the Monarchs, Tigers, Nymphs and Crows, and comprises of about 190 species in total.
There are 10 species in the genus Tirumala. The genus is centred on the Oriental region although one species hamata has a range extending from Arabia to Australia.
All Tirumala species are toxic to birds. If a bird attacks and tastes a Tirumala it instantly vomits and suffers from nausea. Birds quickly learn to associate the colour and pattern of toxic butterflies with these unpleasant experiences, and are consequently deterred from attacking other butterflies of the same species. Both sexes of Tirumala species have similar patterns, but males can very easily be distinguished by the presence of a large pouch of androconial scales on each hindwing.
Tirumala septentrionis is a very common and widespread species found in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Tirumala septentrionis male, Chilapata, West Bengal, India  Adrian Hoskins

Habitats
This species can be found in many habitats including rainforest, Acacia scrub, deciduous woodlands, parks and gardens. It occurs at elevations between sea level and about 800m.
Lifecycle
The larval foodplants include Vallaris, Parsonsia, Dregea, Heterostemma, Cocculus and Tylophora

( Asclepiadaceae ).

Tirumala septentrionis male, Ultapani, Assam, India  Adrian Hoskins

Adult behaviour

The butterflies are usually encountered singly or in two's and three's. They have a slow undulating flight, with fairly shallow wing beats, and patrol flowery areas. Sometimes quite large aggregations gather to imbibe pyrrolizidine alkaloids exuding from the stems or seed pods of Fabaceae.

Tirumala septentrionis male, Chilapata, West Bengal, India  Adrian Hoskins

 

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