Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing approaching its nectaring plant

on 24th October 2013

This Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana) was photographed at Brunei’s Ulu Temburong National Park on 1st October 2013 by KC Tsang.

The series of images show the beautiful swallowtail butterfly with its elongated, velvety black forewings decorated with metallic green triangles, gingerly approach its nectaring plant for a sip of the flower nectar. Note the long, slender proboscis that uncoils as the butterfly approaches the flower.

The nectaring plant as shown in the images is possibly Mussaenda philippica ‘Aurorae’ – as seen from the single, large, ivory-coloured sepal and tubular flowers topped with golden-yellow petals. According to Khew Sin Khoon of Butterfly Circle LINK, its caterpillar host plant is Aristolochia foveolata.

Sin Khoon agrees with KC that the subspecies that occurs in Brunei and East Malaysia is brookiana. So the full name would be T. brookiana brookiana (Wallace 1855). It was first discovered by AR Wallace and named in honour of Sir James Brooke who was appointed the Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. He was also often referred to as the “White Rajah”. Another subspecies is also found in Borneo in East Kalimantan, and this is T. brookiana haugumei (Parrott, 1991)

The two subspecies found in West Malaysia, are T. brookiana albescens (Rothschild, 1895) which is the common one, whilst another subspecies, T. brookiana mollumar (D’Abrera, Parker & Doggett 1976) flies in south-eastern Johor.

KC Tsang (images) & Khew Sin Khoon (opinion)
October 2013

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)