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Friday, October 03, 2008

Butterflies in Taiwan 

We recently received a request for more information about the Purple Milkweed Butterfly, which was the subject of a video covering their annual mass migration in Taiwan. As the winter monsoon moves down from the Northeast, thousands of Purple Milkweed Butterflies make a mass migration to south Taiwan, where they shelter in the warm valleys at the foot of Dawu Mountain. Spectators have described the spectacle as like watching a purple river coming around the mountain. Scattered with white dots over glistening blue and purple wings, the irridescent colour continually changes hue in the sunlight.

Milkweed butterflies are so-called because their larvae feed on milkweed plants, which cause the butterflies to be distasteful and toxic, an effective deterrent against predators. They are also known as Crow butterflies and the migrating purple crow butterflies are classified as members of the Euploea genus (Euploeini).

Kelly Her has written a comprehensive article about efforts to safeguard the seasonal migration and she can be contacted at mail.gio.gov.tw (usual mail address format, kelly@mail.gio.etc.etc). There is also a Purple Butterfly Valley Conservation Society in Maolin, Taiwan.

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