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The white dragontail

November 6, 2012

During a recent Dokmai Garden tour to Mae Khanin Tai in Opkhan national park (Chiang Mai) we observed the fantastic white dragontail butterfly (Lamproptera curius, Papilionidae).

It landed on the footpath in front of us, drinking water straight from the soil. Unlike other butterflies, this one vibrates, and the looong tail gives the butterfly an unusual shape.

The forewings have translucent windows and the long tails are adorned with white tips. The shadow reminds me of the Dokmai Garden silver pheasant.

The white dragontail was described by the Danish entomologist Fabricius in 1787. It can be commonly found in most of Southeast Asia where the foodplant of its larva grows: Illigera appendiculata (Hernandiaceae). Northern Thai names for this plant are ‘phak hang laen’ or ‘som samking’.

In a previous blog I mentioned what you can do to transform your garden into a butterfly sanctuary. This is an example where a wet mud path and the introduction of a jungle plant would bring a lot of joy. Needless to say, I am right now looking for seeds of Illigera.

Text: Eric Danell

Photo: David Fielder

2 Comments leave one →
  1. David Fielder permalink
    November 17, 2012 10:20 AM

    Hello Eric,

    Maybe your garden show have a muddy section that can be wetted an a regular basis to entice butterflies?

    The picture will always bring back fond memories of that day and your excitement when you first saw it!

    Thank you!

    • November 19, 2012 12:21 AM

      In fact, the wild boars escaped recently and they provided plenty of muddy areas. Lycaenid butterflies (blues) loved it! the wild bioars are back again, and Lala seems pregnant.

      Yes, we had a good time and you further triggered my butterfly interest. Today we had four entomologists visiting (Thai and Swiss) – exciting! We also have a huge wild female tarantula who exposes herself nicely at night when we tickle her cobweb.

      Cheers, Eric

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