Blue Tiger Butterfly: Essential Facts and Tips for Enthusiasts

The Blue Tiger Butterfly is a fascinating and beautiful creature that can capture the attention of both nature enthusiasts and casual observers.

With its striking appearance and unique features, this butterfly species is certainly worth getting to know.

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Blue Tiger Butterfly is its vibrant coloration.

The upper side of the wings displays a bold combination of black and bright blue, while the underside features a more muted pattern of orange, brown, and white.

These captivating colors not only serve as a visual treat for human observers but also play a crucial role in the butterfly’s survival, as they can deter potential predators.

Blue Tiger Butterfly

In addition to its appearance, the Blue Tiger Butterfly also exhibits some interesting behaviors. They are known for their migratory tendencies, traveling long distances in search of suitable habitats.

Moreover, they are quite social butterflies, often forming large communal roosts during their migration period.

This unique mix of characteristics and behaviors makes the Blue Tiger Butterfly a fascinating subject for study and observation.

Blue Tiger Butterfly Overview

Scientific Classification

The Blue Tiger Butterfly, scientifically known as Tirumala limniace, belongs to the Nymphalidae family.

A close relative of the Blue Tiger Butterfly, which shares a similar appearance, is Tirumala hamata.

Other butterflies that look similar to the Blue Tiger include:
  • The Dark Blue Tiger (Tirumala septentrionis)
  • The Scarce Blue Tiger (Tirumala gautama)
  • The Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris)

Physical Appearance

Blue Tiger Butterflies are distinct and easily recognizable, with some key features:

  • Large wingspan, which ranges from 70 to 86 mm
  • Both sexes share similar patterns
  • Dark brown-to-black background of the wings
  • Striking blue markings on the wings

File:Open wing nectering of Tirumala limniace Cramer, 1775 – Blue Tiger on Lantana camara flower WLB DSC 0131.jpg

Source: SandipoutsiderCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Habitat and Distribution

The preferred habitats and distribution of Blue Tiger Butterflies include:

  • Tropical and subtropical regions
  • Mainly found in Asia and Australia
  • Typically frequent forests, gardens, and coastal areas

Blue Tiger Butterflies can often be seen flying around various flower and nectar sources, occasionally resting on plants and leaves.

Cultural Significance

The Blue Tiger Butterfly, with its vibrant hues, holds a special place in the hearts of those in regions where it’s found.

In some Asian cultures, its striking appearance is seen as a sign of good luck and prosperity.

Its migratory patterns have also been the subject of local folklore, with tales narrating their journey as a quest for knowledge or spiritual enlightenment.

Celebrations and festivals in certain regions also incorporate the Blue Tiger Butterfly as a symbol of nature’s wonder.

Life Cycle of the Blue Tiger Butterfly

Eggs

The Blue Tiger Butterfly (Tirumala limniace) begins its life as a tiny, spherical egg.

Female butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of their host plants, predominantly on species like the Clerodendrum and Asystasia.

Some key features of Blue Tiger Butterfly eggs include:

  • Light green color
  • Laid individually or in small clusters
  • Hatching occurs within 3-5 days

Caterpillar and Larvae

Upon hatching, the larvae emerge as caterpillars. They possess a cylindrical body with various colors, from black with white spots to dark brown.

Throughout their growth, caterpillars undergo several stages called instars. As they grow, they feed on the leaves of their host plants.

Some characteristics of Blue Tiger Butterfly caterpillars include:

  • Hair-like structures called setae
  • Defensive against predators by emitting a foul odor
  • Reach approximately 4 cm in length before creating a chrysalis

File:A caterpillar of Tirumala limniace (Cramer, 1775) – Blue Tiger WLB DSC 03 19.jpg

Blue Tiger Butterfly Larva. Source: SandipoutsiderCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pupa and Chrysalis

Once the caterpillar has reached its full size, it transitions into the pupa stage, creating a chrysalis.

This stage is critical for the caterpillar’s transformation into an adult butterfly. The chrysalis of a Blue Tiger Butterfly:

  • Appears in a jade green color with golden spots
  • Attaches to the host plant via a silk thread
  • Lasts roughly 10-14 days

Adult Butterfly

At the end of the pupa stage, an adult Blue Tiger Butterfly emerges. These butterflies showcase stunning blue, black, and white patterns on their wings and have a wingspan of about 75-95 mm.

Key features of adult Blue Tiger Butterflies:

  • Males and females exhibit similar markings
  • Possess sensory organs called antennae to locate nectar and suitable host plants
  • Longevity of up to 6 weeks in the wild

Migration and Mating Patterns

Migratory Patterns

Blue Tiger butterflies are known for their unique migratory patterns.

They usually migrate from north to south along the eastern coast of Australia.

For instance, their migration takes them from North Queensland to areas like Noosa and the Great Barrier Reef.

In southern India, the butterfly migrates during the monsoons. The migration occurs between mid-October and early December.

File:A pair of Dark Blue Tiger butterflies at Bannerghatta National Park, India.jpg

Source: Punya Sheel SharmaCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The butterflies migrate in millions, passing through Bangalore to their final destination in the Nilgiris and Annamalais in the Western Ghats.

The migratory populations have been observed to consist nearly entirely of males.

Their migration is seasonally influenced, which explains why their population varies throughout the year.

Mating Habits

The mating habits of Blue Tiger butterflies are similarly interesting. Males and females display unique behaviors in order to attract a mate.

  • Males perch on leaves and branches to spot potential female mates
  • Females lay eggs after successful mates

Males often engage in territorial defense in areas they consider suitable for mating, while females lay their eggs on particular host plants.

Here’s a comparison of male and female Blue Tiger butterfly behavior:

Behavior Male Female
Search for mates Perch on leaves and branches Lay eggs after mating
Territorial strategy Establish territories for mating purposes Focus on finding suitable host plant

In conclusion, Blue Tiger butterflies display fascinating migration and mating patterns across Australia.

Behavior and Adaptations

Predators and Defense Mechanisms

The Blue Tiger Butterfly (Tirumala limniace) faces threats from various predators such as insects, birds, and spiders.

A key defense mechanism of this butterfly is its brightly patterned wings featuring distinct spots, which serve to deter predators like crows and tigers.

Additionally, the butterfly’s wingspan and antennae assist in detecting threats and maintaining balance during flight.

  • Distinct wing spots: Confuse and deter predators
  • Wingspan: Provides stability in flight
  • Antennae: Detects threats and maintains balance

Feeding Habits

The Blue Tiger Butterfly feeds primarily on nectar from various flowers, using its long proboscis to extract nutrients.

Adult butterflies are known to favor flowers of the Asclepiadoideae family. In their larval stage, the caterpillars primarily feed on the leaves of host plants.

  • Feeding on nectar: Provides necessary nutrients for survival
  • Proboscis: Long, coiled mouthpart for reaching nectar

File:Blue-tiger-from-kottayam-kerala.jpg

Source: DeepugnCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Social and Interactions

Being social creatures, Blue Tiger Butterflies often form clusters or groups known as kaleidoscopes during migration or when seeking suitable feeding sites.

They communicate primarily through chemical signals via specialized filaments on their thorax and head.

  • Kaleidoscopes: Groups formed during migration
  • Filaments: Helps communicate through chemical signals
Feature Blue Tiger Butterfly
Predators Insects, birds, spiders
Defense Mechanisms Brightly patterned wings, wingspan, antennae
Feeding Habits Nectar from flowers, leaves (caterpillars)
Social Interactions Clusters or kaleidoscopes, chemical communication via filaments

Human and Environmental Impact

Conservation Status

The Blue Tiger Butterfly is not listed as an endangered species.

However, like many other butterflies, the conservation of their habitat is essential to ensure their population thrives.

Gardens and Eco-Tourism

Butterfly Walks

Butterfly walks are growing in popularity, as they provide an eco-friendly activity for nature enthusiasts.

Gardens specifically designed for butterflies, such as the Blue Tiger, offer a unique opportunity to observe these fascinating creatures up close.

Habitat Gardens

Creating a butterfly-friendly habitat in gardens helps all species of butterflies, including the Blue Tiger Butterfly.

By planting a variety of nectar-producing plants and host plants for caterpillars, gardens can provide a thriving environment for these winged beauties.

Blue Tiger Butterfly and other similar species have their own habitat preferences.

To provide an optimal environment for these butterflies and their caterpillars, it’s essential to select the right plants for your garden.

Eco-Tourism

Eco-tourism plays a significant role in preserving the environment and providing income for local communities.

By promoting activities like butterfly walks and butterfly gardens, eco-tourism encourages responsible travel and appreciation for biodiversity.

Predators and Interactions with Other Species

The Blue Tiger Butterfly, like other butterflies, plays a crucial role in the ecosystem. Their primary interaction is with the plants they pollinate.

As they move from flower to flower, they facilitate the reproduction of these plants. However, they also fall prey to various predators like birds, spiders, and larger insects.

File:Blue tiger (Tirumala limniace exoticus).jpg

Source: Charles J. Sharp CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some birds have learned to avoid them due to their bright colors, which often indicate that they might be toxic or unpalatable.

On the other hand, certain species of ants have symbiotic relationships with their larvae, offering them protection in exchange for a sugary secretion the larvae produce.

Life Beyond Pollination

While the Blue Tiger Butterfly is primarily known for its role in pollination, its life encompasses much more. The butterfly’s vibrant colors serve as a defense mechanism, warning potential predators of its unpalatable taste.

During their migratory journey, they often form large communal roosts, showcasing their social behavior. These roosts become a spectacle, attracting various other species in a dance of nature.

The larvae of the Blue Tiger Butterfly also have a unique interaction with certain ant species, offering them a sugary secretion in exchange for protection.

This intricate web of interactions highlights the butterfly’s multifaceted role in the ecosystem.

Threats and Conservation Efforts

The Blue Tiger Butterfly, with its striking appearance, faces threats from habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change.

Urbanization and deforestation have reduced the availability of their native habitats, while pesticides can directly harm these delicate creatures.

Climate change affects their migratory patterns and the availability of food sources. In response, conservation efforts are underway.

As mentioned above, establishing butterfly gardens can help provide safe habitats, and doing awareness campaigns to educate the public about the importance of reducing pesticide use is also important.

Subspecies

Tirumala Limniace Exoticus

The Blue Tiger butterfly (Tirumala limniace) has one subspecies, Tirumala limniace exoticus, which is found in India.

It is commonly seen in villages, cities, and forests.

The Blue Tiger has a wingspan of 75 to 105 mm. It migrates extensively during the monsoons in southern India.

This butterfly contains a toxic compound that can cause heart attacks when ingested in large dosage.

File:Open wing Basking posture of Tirumala limniace (Cramer, 1775) - Blue Tiger (Male) WLB IMG 4251.jpg

Tirumala Limniace Exoticus. Source: SandipoutsiderCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Conclusion

The Blue Tiger Butterfly, with its mesmerizing blue bands and unique behaviors, stands as a testament to nature’s wonders.

Native to Asia and Australia, this butterfly not only delights observers with its beauty but also plays a vital role in pollination.

Its migratory patterns, mating habits, and the challenges it faces highlight the intricate balance of nature.

As we marvel at its vibrant colors and patterns, it’s crucial to ensure the conservation of its habitats, ensuring that future generations can also witness this natural spectacle.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about blue tiger butterflies. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Blue Glassy Tiger from Indonesia

Subject: isnt this a paper kite butterfly..??
Location: Kalimantan Island, Indonesia
September 4, 2016 9:34 pm
hello.. i want to know about this butterfly.. do you think this is a paper kite butterfly (Idea leuconoe)..?? i took the picture in Kalimantan Island,, Indonesia..
Signature: Reza Adi Pratama

Blue Glassy Tiger
Blue Glassy Tiger

Dear Reza,
We found the butterfly you mentioned,
Idea leuconoe, pictured on Butterfly Circle where it is commonly called a Mangrove Tree Nymph, and it is listed in the subfamily Danainae, which is the same subfamily as your individual, but it is also a different species. 

We located an image on FlickR that matches your image and the butterfly is identified as a Blue Glassy Tiger, Ideopsis vulgaris.  According to Butterflies of Singapore

“This species is locally common in Singapore and is most   likely encountered in coastal mangrove habitats such as the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pasir Ris Park. Occasionally the adults can also be spotted in some urban parks and gardens.”  The site also has excellent images of the entire life cycle of the Blue Glassy Tiger.

Letter 2 – Blue Tiger Butterfly from Australia

Subject: aussietrev
Location: Queensland, Australia
December 30, 2013 11:13 pm
Hi guys,
All the best for the festive season and a fantastic new year. Hope you like this shot of the Blue Tiger Butterfly, seems a bit under represented on the site.

They pass through my property on their migratory journey each year but it is rare to get one sitting still long enough for a shot.
Keep up the good work, till next year then,
best wishes
Trevor
Signature: aussietrev

Blue Tiger Butterfly
Blue Tiger Butterfly

Hi Trevor,
Thanks for sending in your beautiful image.  We have to admit that for the past few days, we have been mostly fielding requests to identify Household Intruders and many of those images have been blurry and lacking in critical detail. 

While cellular telephones allow folks to document things they encounter, the bottom line is that the quality of the images produced on the best portable communication devices pales when compared to the fine digital images that are produced with professional cameras when they are in trained artistic hands. 

As the relevance of teaching photography comes under scrutiny due to budget cuts at the college level in America, we can’t help but to ponder the ubiquity of the photographic image and the importance good photographs play on successful websites. 

Excellent quality images like your Blue Tiger Butterfly, Tirumala hamata, help to make our humble website a more exciting place to visit.

Letter 3 – Blue Tiger Butterfly from Solomon Islands

December 20, 2009
Attached is a video frame-grab of a milkweed butterfly that we encountered on a hike along the Tenaru River, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.  The location was about midway between the coast and Tenaru Falls and was videotaped on November 10, 2009.

This is about the best I can do to sharpen the video frame as the butterfly was moving the entire time.  None of the frames with its wings open are any good – way too blurry.

Thanks for your help with the identification of this butterfly as well as the Papilio aegeus and the Callidula sp. moth, all of which were videotaped on the same trail heading up the river to the falls.
Bruce Carlson, Atlanta
Solomon Islands, Tenaru River, Guadalcanal

Blue Tiger
Blue Tiger

Hi again Bruce,
Thanks for taking the trouble to provide us with a better image.  This is one of the Milkweed Butterflies from the subfamily Danainae which includes the Monarch. 

It is Tirumala hamata, the Blue Tiger and the Brisbane Insects website has numerous nice images.  The blue coloration of newly emerged adults fades with time, and your specimen is probably nearing the end of its life.  The Lepidoptera Butterflyhouse website also has images of the caterpillar and chrysalis.

Australian Stamp

The Blue Tiger Butterfly has appeared on several stamps, including one from Australia and one from Samoa.

Samoan Stamp
Samoan Stamp

milkweed butterfly wings open
Sorry that this image isn’t great but it’s the best I could pull out of the video clip.  Thanks for help with the identification.
Bruce

Blue Tiger Butterfly
Blue Tiger Butterfly

Letter 4 – Blue Tiger from India

Subject: Love this moth
Location: Goa, India
December 17, 2012 10:30 pm
This moth was sitting for hours in our house and I could photograph it without any problems.
When I looked up on Google, I saw a similar one on your website with its ID. Lovely Dysphania Percota (at Khanapur, Karnataka), which is possibly in the same ecological belt as Goa.
Thanks for the good work!
Sucheta
Goa
Signature: Suchetapotnis

Blue Tiger

Dear Sucheta,
We are very happy you figured out how to submit your photo, which is quite lovely.  The colors on your Blue Tiger,
Dysphania percota, are much more vivid than the individual from our archives.

We look forward to future submissions from you, but please limit your yourself to one species per submission form.  We will respond to as many as possible.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks so much for your email. You guys are doing a terrific job. I, luckily, come across a large number of critters who are so bewitching, that I am delighted to have found your website for further info. Yes, I am glad that I figured out the mysteries of the photo submission.
Glad the colors are vivid – hope they help others identify better.
Thanks again.
Best, Sucheta

Letter 5 – Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger from Taiwan

Subject:  Butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Taiwan
Date: 05/11/2018
Time: 04:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I was wondering if you could help me identify this butterfly.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks! Libbi

Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger

Dear Libbi,
When we checked our emailed identification requests, we found 16 requests from you.  We are impressed with your enthusiasm, but that is nearly a week’s worth of postings for us so we will slowly answer as many of your requests as possible, but we also have additional requests from other readers. 

Your butterfly is in the Milkweed Butterfly subfamily Danainae as indicated in this Butterflies of Taiwan page and Taiwan News has an unidentified image of numerous individuals.  It might be a Blue Tiger, Tirumala limniace limniace, which is pictured on My Butterfly Collection

According to Encyclopedia of Life, the range is “South Asia and Southeast Asia. Also found in numbers in Queensland (at least as far south as Mackay, but also recorded in Brisbane) Australia.”  An even closer visual match is the Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger, Ideopsis similis, which is pictured on FlickR and is also found in Taiwan according to this FlickR posting. 

According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Hong Kong site, it is found in Taiwan and is called the Blue Glassy Tiger.  According to Encyclopedia of Life:  “The Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis similis) is a butterfly found in Asia, including India and Taiwan.”  Our money is on the latter of these similar, related species.  

Letter 6 – Unknown Moth from India is Blue Tiger, Dysphania percota

What is this?
March 25, 2011
Dear Bugman !
I found this interesting moth last night..
Its colours are quite attractive and rare… thought this might be a good addition to wtb
Thanks and regards….
Ibrahim TMC
India

What’s That Moth???  Blue Tiger

Hi Ibrahim,
We don’t know what it is, but we expect that Karl will soon be writing in with an identification.  Was it diurnal or nocturnal?

Update: Identified as Blue Tiger in a comment
The Blue Tiger,
Dysphania percota, is one of the Geometrid Moths and not a true Tiger Moth. 

When lttlechkn provided us with a comment and identification link, we found additional verification on the Forestry Images website.  There is also a photo of a mounted specimen on AZs Lepidoptera page.

 

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

3 thoughts on “Blue Tiger Butterfly: Essential Facts and Tips for Enthusiasts”

    • Thanks lttlechkn,
      You appear to have nailed this ID correctly. We are going to modify the posting and provide additional links.

      Reply

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