Subject: Big butterfly in peninsular Malaysia
Location: East coast peninsular Malaysia
January 18, 2013 10:00 am
Hello! Found these two beauties outside my hotel room in peninsular Malaysia. A big bulky butterfly and some sort of katydid that wasn’t very pleased with my presence.
Help me identify them please! Love the website by the way.
Signature: spl0uf

Palmking

Dear spl0uf,
Narrowing down an identification to the family is often a great help when searching the internet.  This is a Brush Footed Butterfly in the family Nymphalidae, a group that can be identified by examining the legs.  This family has a modified first pair of legs that are not used for walking, and they stand and walk on the remaining two pairs of legs.  We quickly identified your Brush Footed Butterfly in the family Nymphalidae as a Palm King Butterfly,
Amathusia phidippus gunneryi, on the Science Photo Library website.  Searching with that scientific name, we found the Sambuibutterflies website where it is called the Palmking, Amathusia phidippus phidippus, and this information is provided:  “The member of this family that you are most likely to see, being very common wherever coconut palm trees occur. It flies at dawn and dusk, and will often fly into people’s homes when they put the lights on in the evening. During the day, it hides away from the sun, but is easily disturbed, darting away quickly to find a more undisturbed roost.  There are several very similar species, and the only way to be certain of their true identity is to check secondary sexual characteristics in the male. It does not help that all the species exhibit a high level of variation in the shade and width of the pale bands.”  We believe that the author of that quote incorrectly identified those qualities as belonging to the family when genus should have been specified.  We did notice the crepuscular flight times, dawn and dusk, noted elsewhere, and it seems by your photo that this Palmking was attracted to the indoor lights of your hotel room.  The 1964 Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society published an article entitled An Unusual Abundance of Amathusia phidippus (Amathusiidae) in Cebu, Philippines by Julian N. Jumalon that begins with this poetic paragraph:  “Few are the hamlets and countrysides in the Philippines where Amathusia phidippus (Linne), a large brown butterfly, is not a familiar sight at twilight. Its hasty, jumpy flight, large size, and habit of gamboling if several are around, sets it apart from other crepuscular fliers such as species of the satyrid genus M elanitis. Likewise, one seldom comes across banana and coconut groves which do not have a colony of a form of phidippus. Cebu’s subspecies is Amathusia phidippus pollicaris Fruh.”  We will work on the other identification and create a unique posting. 

Location: Malaysia

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