Monday, 15 February 2016

161. Lamproptera curius (The White Dragontail)

Number: 161
Family: Papilioniidae
Sub-Family: Papilioniinae
Species: Lamproptera curius Fabricius, 1787
Common name(s): The White Dragontail
Photography location: Cuc Phuong N.P. (Ninh Binh Prov.), Tam Dao (Vinh Phuc Prov.)

Males of species of Lamproptera frequent open riverbanks in forests. They tend to puddle separately from aggregations of other species, often being found on sand nearby rather than in a multi-species group. They look like dragonflies when flying along a stream bed, and can easily be overlooked by an observer unless they alight on the bank.

Lamproptera curius

Lamproptera meges can be distinguished from curius by the forewing discal band, green in meges and white in curius. They can also be separated by examining the dark band outside this paler discal band. In meges the green band is contiguous with the dark band across the whole forewing, whereas in curius there is a narrow transparent band separating the white and dark bands below the forewing cell.

The two species of Lamproptera also have other characters to separate them, particularly the white androconial scales in the anal margin of the hindwing of the male of curius, which are absent in meges, and the green scales at the tip of the antennae of meges, absent in curius.
The larval foodplants of both species of Lamproptera are species of Illigera (Hernandiaceae).

Until recently, only two species of  Lamproptera were known. But in 2014, a new species has been described from northern Yunnan, China : L. paracurius.

Key to species of Lamproptera based on external characters (from Hu, Zhang, Cotton & Ye, 2014):

1     Forewing inner discal band white; a hyaline band at least 1 mm wide between the black and white bands . . . . 2
-      Forewing inner discal band pale green (or with a blue hue, colour more vivid when alive); no obvious hyaline band between the black and pale green bands . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . .. . . . . . .  . . . .  . .   L. meges

2      Forewing black marginal band edged proximally with white. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . L. paracurius
-       Forewing black marginal band not edged proximally with white. . . . . . . . . . . .  . .L. curius

The range of Lamproptera curius is from India, east to China, south through Indochina and Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo and Palawan island. White Dragontail is the smallest swallowtail butterfly in the whole Papilionidae family.

Lamproptera curius

Lamproptera curius

Lamproptera curius feeding on Bidens flowers