Death of a Plain Tiger

posted in: Butterflies and Moths | 2

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

2 Responses

  1. Am

    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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