Tirumala limniace

Tirumala limniace, the blue tiger,[1][2] is a butterfly found in South Asia, and Southeast Asia[1][2]that belongs to the crows and tigers, that is, the danaid group of the brush-footed butterfly family. This butterfly shows gregarious migratory behaviour in southern India. In some places, it may be found in congregations with Danaus genutia, Tirumala septentrionis, Euploea sylvester, Euploea core, Parantica aglea, and at high elevations, with Parantica nilgiriensis, on Crotalaria.

Blue tiger
Blue tiger (Tirumala limniace exoticus).jpg
Blue tiger (Tirumala limniace exoticus) male underside.jpg
Underside of male
both in Kerala, India
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Tirumala
T. limniace
Binomial name
Tirumala limniace
(Cramer, [1775])

See text

Tirumala limniace - Distribution.png
  • Papilio limniace Cramer, [1775]
  • Danais limniace fruhstorferi van Eecke, 1915
  • Danaida limniace kuchingana Moulton, 1915


Tirumala limniace is a large butterfly with wide wings. It has a wingspan of 90 to 100 millimeters, with the males being smaller than the females. The upper side of the wing is dark brown to black and patterned with bluish-white, semi-transparent spots and lines. The blue of the bluish-white spots consists of the pigment pterobilin. In general, all butterflies can directly absorb heat from the sun via their wings to facilitate autonomous flight. Studies on blue tiger butterflies show that high-intensity light significantly increased flight activity. Blue tiger butterflies have a wing surface color that is composed of both light and dark colors. The dark areas on the wing surfaces are the heat absorption areas that allow for the facilitation of autonomous flight.

In cell 1b of the forewing, which, like all the others, is an area on the wing bounded by veins, run two strips, sometimes connected, after which there is a large spot. A stripe runs from the base of the discoid cell, followed by a large spot that is notched from the wing tip (apex). A large oval spot sits at the base of cell 2, a significantly smaller spot is at the base of cell 3, followed by a small spot. Five short stripes can be seen in the post-disk region on the leading edge, only two of which are clearly defined. Two rows of irregular points run submarginally, the inner ones being larger than the outer ones. There is a stripe in cell 1a on the hind wing. A strip that divides from the base also runs through cells 1b and 1c. In the discoid cell there is a wide dividing strip. The lower branch hooks or has a short spur-like base. At the base of cells 2 and 3 there is a thin, V-shaped arch. In cells 2 and 5 there is a strong, wide stripe at the base. Two rows of scattered, irregular points also run submarginally, the inner ones being larger than the outer ones.

The males differ from the females by a black pocket filled with scented scales in cell 1c, near the discoid cell on the upper side of the hind wings. The pockets are only created after hatching while the moth inflates its wings by turning up scented flakes. They play an important role in courtship, along with tufts of hair that can be turned out on the abdomen. The hairs sprout almost only from the rear third of the tuft of hair, a typical feature of the Danaini genera grouped under the clade Danaina.

The underside of the forewing is black, only the apex, like the underside of the hind wings, is olive-brown. The pattern largely corresponds to the top.

The antennae are black, as are the head and thorax, these two still bearing white dots and lines. The top of the abdomen is dark, the underside is pale brownish yellow colored with white shimmering underneath at the segment boundaries

Life cycleEdit

Food plantsEdit

The butterfly larva generally feed on plants of family Asclepiadaceae. The recorded host plants are:


Yellowish white; 3rd and 12th segments, each with a pair of fleshy filaments, black and greenish white; each of the segments with four transverse black bars, the second bar on all broader than the others, bifurcated laterally, a yellow longitudinal line on each side; head, feet and claspers spotted with black.[3] The larva is around 1.21 centimetres (0.48 in) in length and weighs around 5 milligrams (0.077 gr) initially, but grows double that size and four times that weight within 48 hours.


"Green with golden scattered spots and beaded dorsal crescent". (Frederic Moore quoted in Bingham)[3]


The species is distributed in South Asia and Southeast Asia.[1][2] In 2019, a single adult specimen was reported from the Balearic Islands, marking it the first record of the species in Europe.[4]


Listed alphabetically:[2]

  • T. l. bentenga (Martin, 1910) – Selajar
  • T. l. conjuncta Moore, 1883 – Java, Bali, Kangean, Bawean, Lesser Sunda Islands
  • T. l. exotica (Gmelin, 1790) – United Arab Emirates
  • T. l. ino (Butler, 1871) – Sula
  • T. l. leopardus (Butler, 1866) – Ceylon, India - southern Burma
  • T. l. limniace (Cramer, [1775]) – southern China, Indochina, Hainan, Taiwan
  • T. l. makassara (Martin, 1910) – southern Sulawesi
  • T. l. orestilla (Fruhstorfer, 1910) – Philippines (Luzon)
  • T. l. vaneeckeni (Bryk, 1937) – Timor, Wetar


Blue Tigers congregating with a common crow butterfly in Kolkata, West Bengal, India

This species migrates extensively during the monsoons in southern India. The migratory populations have been observed to consist nearly entirely of males.[5] It is also known to mud-puddle during migration.[6]

Gallery of life cycleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Varshney, R.K.; Smetacek, Peter (2015). A Synoptic Catalogue of the Butterflies of India. New Delhi: Butterfly Research Centre, Bhimtal & Indinov Publishing. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.3966.2164. ISBN 978-81-929826-4-9.
  2. ^ a b c d Savela, Markku. "Tirumala limniace (Cramer, [1775])". Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Bingham, Charles Thomas (1907). Fauna of British India. Butterflies Vol. 2. Taylor & Francis. p. 16.
  4. ^ Truyols-Henares, Francisco; Febrer-Serra, Maria; Lassnig, Nil; Perelló, Esperanza; Medina-Torrecabota, Mercedes; Pinya, Samuel (2019). "From Asia to Europe: The first record of the blue tiger Tirumala limniace (Cramer, [1775]) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Danainae) in the European continent". Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology. 22 (4): 1187–1188. doi:10.1016/j.aspen.2019.10.011.
  5. ^ Kunte, Krushnamegh (2005). "Species composition, sex-ratios and movement patterns in Danaine butterfly migrations in southern India". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 102 (3): 280–286.
  6. ^ Mathew, G.; Binoy, C.F. (2002). "Migration of butterflies (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) in the New Amarambalam Reserve Forest of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve" (PDF). Zoos' Print Journal. 17 (8): 844–847. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.17.8.844-7.

External linksEdit