Identifying Butterflies in Taiwan

Megisba malaya sikkima
I am certainly no expert in the field, however I’ve been asked by numerous people the sources I use to help me identify the butterflies I photograph in Taiwan.  It all started with a trip to the Guandu Nature Park [關渡自然公園] in Taipei to toy with my then recently purchased Nikkor 55-200vr “budget telephoto”.  The pictures I went home with were absolutely terrible, but I did walk home with three ID books:  One for birds, one for dragonflies, and one for butterflies.  The books were inexpensive at $200NT each.  The butterfly one: Taiwan’s Commonly Seen Butterflies [Chinese Link (台灣常見的蝴蝶)] contains 133 different species of butterflies.  The book contains photos of the different species as they exist in nature, lists scientific name, Chinese name, a few brief points about identifying, as well as diet and habitats.

Before long I was coming across pictures of butterflies that I could not identify using the small ID book.  I was finally finding butterflies outside of the 133 commonly seen ones listed in the book [which can’t be very hard since Taiwan is home to over 400 species of butterflies].  There was a nature store at the new Eslite bookstore in Taichung whose name escapes me, anyways I picked up the much larger Taiwan’s Butterfly Example Book [sorry for the very terrible translation, here’s the Chinese and link (台灣蝴蝶圖鑑)].  The book contains over 270 species and points out distinctive features of each species, and a lot more information concerning distribution, habitats, and diets than the previously mentioned book.

Outside of those two books there’s also an excellent Chinese website available called Insects of Taiwan [台灣的昆蟲].  To make navigation a little easier, here are the different butterfly families on the site: Lycaenidae, Hesperiidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae [and sub-families: Danainae, Libytheinae, Satyrinae, and Morphinae], and Papilionidae.  Hope you enjoy!

*Note:  I’ll be taking a brief break from posting daily photos today and over the weekend.  I’ll likely resume on Monday.

Daily Photo – Voyeurism

Papilio demoleus libanius
Caught these two in the act behind the Taiwan Provincial Government Building in Jhongsing Village.

Also a big thanks to those who voted this blog the best travel blog in the 2008 Best Taiwan Blog Awards.

Daily Photo – Abraximorpha davidii ermasis

Abraximorpha davidii ermasis

Couldn’t find it in my book featuring the 133 most common varieties of butterflies in Taiwan nor could I find it in my larger book containing 280 varieties… luckily I was able to I.D. it here.

NOTE: I seem to be experiencing a technical hiccup while attempting to upload images onto WordPress for the Daily Photos I set for scheduled publishing on Saturday and Sunday while I am away.  Posting will resume on Monday.

Daily Photo – Lethe europa pavida

Lethe europa pavida
I told myself I had been posting too many butterfly pictures and promised not to post one today. However, after receiving infuriating news regarding a former employer’s recent actions I needed something to brighten my day.

I woke up extra early to find this one. I’ve photographed this variety on another occasion but this picture is more clear. From what I’ve seen, they have a tendency of hanging out in really dark regions of a forest making it hard to get a decent shot using available light.