Plain Tiger

Plain Tiger

The plain tiger butterfly, also known as Danaus chrysippus, African queen, or African monarch, is a medium-sized butterfly commonly found across Asia, Australia, and Africa. It's a member of the Danainae subfamily, which belongs to the larger brush-footed butterfly family called Nymphalidae. These butterflies mainly feed on milkweed plants from the Asclepias genus, which contains toxic compounds called cardenolides. These toxins make the plain tiger taste awful to predators, so its bright colors are often copied by other butterfly species for protection. You'll usually find the plain tiger in open, dry areas rather than dense jungles.

There are three main subspecies of the plain tiger: D. c. alcippus, D. c. chrysippus, and D. c. orientis, each found in specific regions within its vast range.

Interestingly, the plain tiger may be one of the first butterflies ever depicted in art; an ancient Egyptian fresco in Luxor, dating back 3,500 years, features what may be the oldest known illustration of this beautiful insect.

Male Plain Tiger Butterfly: Physical Features and Behaviour

Male Plain Tiger butterflies boast vibrant orange wings adorned with black veins. These little guys are a bit smaller than their female counterparts, with wingspans ranging from 75 to 80 mm. The males are quite stylish, sporting a unique black-and-white spotted border on their wings that the females lack. To woo the ladies during mating season, males come equipped with a pheromone patch on their hindwings.

These butterflies have a strong sense of territory and won't hesitate to engage in mid-air combat to defend their turf from other males. When it's time for romance, male Plain Tigers count on their pheromone patch to draw in the females. Then they put on a showy courtship dance, circling around the female while frantically fluttering their wings.

What's more, these butterflies love to sunbathe! They'll often kick back on rocks or leaves, spreading their wings wide open to bask in the warm sunny rays. Scientists believe this behavior is crucial for regulating their body temperature and getting rid of any pesky moisture on those beautiful wings.

Female Plain Tiger Butterfly: Physical Features and Behaviour

The female plain tiger butterfly stands out with some distinct physical traits that set her apart from her male counterpart. She boasts a sturdier body and broader wings. However, her wings aren't as vibrant as those of the males. Additionally, she's equipped with a unique spotting pattern serving as camouflage. These very spots resemble the eyes of a larger creature, potentially scaring off any predators.

The female plain tiger butterfly is known for its complex reproductive behaviour. Female plain tigers produce pheromones that attract male butterflies. The females use their legs to smear scent on leaves and other objects to signal mating readiness. Male butterflies are also known to perform the courtship dance to impress females. During mating, the male deposits a sperm packet or spermatophore onto the female. The female stores this sperm packet and uses it to fertilize her eggs in the future.

Habitat of The Plain Tiger Butterfly

The Plain Tiger butterfly (Danaus chrysippus) is a fascinating and strikingly gorgeous insect that can be found fluttering gracefully throughout many regions around the world. With its striking yellow and black patterned wings, accentuated by enchanting white specks, this butterfly has captivated the hearts of nature enthusiasts everywhere.

The Plain Tiger is a highly adaptable butterfly species, which is evident by its widespread distribution. It inhabits a diverse range of habitats across Asia, Africa, and even parts of Australia. Its ability to thrive in various climates and ecosystems makes it one of the most successful species in its family.

Throughout their extensive distribution, Plain Tigers seem to have a preference for grasslands and open spaces such as meadows or clearings within forests. They enjoy areas that have a good mix of plants, flowers, and trees that offer both food and shelter. This variety helps support their growth from caterpillar to adult butterfly.

While these open habitats are relatively common around the world, the specific plants found within them may differ between regions. In Africa, for example, Plain Tigers often feed on Oleander plants while Asclepias species may be favored in Asia.

Host plants play a crucial role in defining Plain Tiger butterfly habitats since they are indispensable during their developmental stages. They serve as food sources for larvae (caterpillars) and egg-laying sites for adult butterflies. Some common host plants in their habitat include Calotropis gigantea, C. procera, Asclepias curassavica, and Nerium oleander.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Plain Tiger butterfly habitats is their incorporation of toxic plants. Many species in the Asclepiadaceae family are poisonous, and larvae can consume their toxic substances, making themselves unpalatable to predators. This, in turn, provides an amazing defense mechanism and influences their survival strategy throughout various habitats.

Life Cycle of The Plain Tiger Butterfly

Like all butterflies, Plain Tigers undergo four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult butterfly. Eggs are laid on milkweed plants – the primary food source for both larval and adult stages – and hatch within a few days. As caterpillars, they feed voraciously on milkweed leaves, growing rapidly until they're ready to enter the pupal stage. During the pupal stage, they'll form a protective chrysalis where metamorphosis takes place. After emerging as adult butterflies, Plain Tigers will take flight in search of mates and nectar-rich flowers for sustenance.

Flight Bahaviour and Pattern of The Plain Tiger Butterfly

In contrast to many butterfly species, Plain Tigers stand out as exceptional fliers with the ability to easily maneuver through the air. Thanks to their wide, robust wings, they can quickly ascend and make swift turns. Impressively, these butterflies have the stamina to fly long distances without stopping.

One aspect that makes their flying capability so extraordinary is their wing structure – a thin layer of scales helps regulate body temperature. This attribute enables them to fly comfortably even at higher, cooler altitudes.

What's more, Plain Tigers exhibit an intriguing migratory behavior. As one of the few butterflies known to embark on long-distance migrations, they can cover a staggering 12,000 kilometers per year. During these journeys, it's not uncommon to witness thousands of them soaring through the skies together.

It’s no wonder that Plain Tiger butterflies capture the imagination of enthusiasts worldwide – their remarkable flight skills are just one reason why these creatures garner such admiration.

Distribution and Availability in Nepal

Plain Tiger butterflies happily make their homes in all kinds of places, from grassy fields and open forests to gardens and parks, even farms and scrubby areas. They're pretty adaptable when it comes to temperature, so you can find them all over sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Australia. In Nepal, you'll spot these beauties hanging out at elevations up to 2,000 meters. Thanks to the country's variety of natural environments and conservation work, the Plain Tiger butterfly population is doing great and growing nicely in spots that suit them.


To sum it up, the Plain Tiger butterfly is an amazing species that bring color and life to our natural surroundings. By learning about their unique characteristics, life cycle, and where they're found, we can truly value their role in ecosystems and make sure they keep blessing Nepal's awe-inspiring landscapes with their presence.