Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - JUNONIINI
male, Bukit Tapah, West Malaysia ©
The genus Hypolimnas
comprises of about 27 species, of which 12 are restricted to the
Afrotropical region ( including 2 Madagascan endemics ). Most of the
remainder are found in various parts of the Oriental and Australian
regions. The exception is misippus,
which has a huge range encompassing Florida ( USA ), the Caribbean
islands, northern South America, most of Africa, much of tropical
and subtropical Asia from India to Japan, and south across Malaysia,
Indonesia and Papua to Australia.
Many members of the
genus are marked with large colourful patches of blue, white or
orange, and are
Batesian mimics of the Danainae - a
subfamily of butterflies demonstrated to be unpalateable or
poisonous to birds. The female of Hypolimnas
misippus for example is a perfect mimic in colour, pattern
and behaviour of the Plain Tiger Danaus
chrysippus; while the female of
Hypolimnas bolina is a mimic of the Common Crow
Hypolimnas anomala is another
Euploea mimic. The female, which has a
dazzling iridescent purple-blue sheen across the outer half of the
mimics the male of
Euploea mulciber, not only visually,
but in terms of the microscopic structure of it's wing scales (
Saito, 2002 ). The male, as illustrated above, is more of a general
purpose mimic - a bird could easily mistake it for
any of the plainer Euploea species.
Hypolimnas anomala is found in
Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Java,
Sulawesi, Timor, the Philippines, and around Darwin in northern
The Malayan Egg-fly
is found in lowland rainforests at altitudes between sea level and
about 300m, often in disturbed areas around forest villages.
eggs are barrel-shaped, with 14 prominent vertical ribs. They are
laid in large batches on the upperside of leaves of the foodplants,
which include the flowering herb
Pipturus and probably other genera of
are gregarious during their early instars, and feed diurnally. They
are blackish in colour, with pale lines along the back and sides,
and are covered in short multi-branched spines. When fully grown the
larva is black, with a bright red head which bears a pair of long
bristly black spines. Each body segment is armed with 6 bright
orange multi-branched spines with conical bases.
The chrysalis is
pale brown, with short spikes along its back, and in shape is
similar to that of the Checkerspots and Fritillaries. It is
suspended by the cremaster from a stem or from the underside of a
The male of this
common species can often be seen walking about on damp ground,
rapidly fanning its wings as it probes around for moisture. This
behaviour instantly distinguishes the butterfly from
Euploea males which are also commonly
seen on the ground but always hold their wings erect when feeding.
Both sexes of anomala also visit
Lantana and other flowers for nectar.
When not feeding they tend to spend long periods at rest on the
foliage of bushes.
The "Egg-fly" - a butterfly which stands guard
over its eggs until they hatch.
and its "sister species"
antilope are a fascinating pair of butterflies which have
a unique way of protecting their offspring. They lay their eggs
in large batches on the upper surface of leaves, and then stand
guard over them, forming a protective umbrella to shield them
from parasitoid wasps. They remain in this position until the
eggs hatch and the tiny caterpillars have dispersed several days
later. Quite how this behaviour came to "evolve" is a mystery
which no one seems able to answer.....