Blue tiger butterflies, Bangalore, India
© Amith Nag Photography/Getty Image
Blue tiger butterflies
Tirumala limniace, also called the blue tiger, is a large butterfly with a wingspan of 75 to 100 millimetres belonging to the Danainae group of the brush-footed butterfly family. They are brownish-black in colour and patterned with bluish-white, semi-transparent spots and lines which consists of the pigment called pterobilin. Perhaps surprisingly, the males are smaller than the females and can be identified by a small pouch near the hind wing which is used to spread a scent that attracts the females.
Today, as seen on our homepage, there are thousands of blue tiger butterflies flocking on a tree. This is considered an anti-predator strategy in cool temperatures when the butterflies are slightly dormant. They feed mostly on toxic plants, fly slowly and spend long periods resting in sheltered areas during the winter. Though these butterflies are evenly distributed in South and Southeast Asia, in 2019 a single adult specimen was reported in the Balearic Islands, marking it the first record of the species in Europe too.