Death of a Plain Tiger

on 22nd October 2015

The egg of the Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus chrysippus), a rather attractive and common butterfly (above), takes 3 days to hatch. Once hatched, the young caterpillar feeds voraciously for the next 7-8 days, undergoing five instars before turning into a pupa. The pupa then takes another 6 days before the butterfly is ready to emerge. During this period of 16-17 days, anything can happen to terminate the cycle. But to go through the entire cycle of transformation and be predated just before the butterfly emerges is a real pity.

This was exactly what happened to the pupa in the image posted earlier by Khew Sin Khoon in Butterflies in Singapore (below)

The ants attacked the pupa just as the butterfly was about to emerge, an example of nature in the raw. The wing pattern can clearly be seen through the pupal case and a leg, sticking out, almost as if trying to claw itself out to escape the ants.

Khew Sin Khoon
October 2015

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

2 Responses

  1. Oh dear. I do feel a tinge of pity and sadness for this to-be butterfly that didn’t make it. But where did the ants come from? Surely they must already have been living on this plant or somewhere near it? So the caterpillar must have been doomed from the start unless it managed to find itself an ant-free host plant to feed on.

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