The Paper Kite Butterfly
The Lovely Paper Kite Butterfly
The paper kite butterfly only has two rather common colors, black and white, but is still an eye-catching beauty. The way the light shines through the wings is just amazing, and if there are other colors around it looks a bit like stained glass. These beauties come from Malaysia and the Philippines and Southeast Asia in general. Their official name is Idea leuconoe. They are also known as the white tree nymph, or rice paper. Some lepidopterists call this butterfly the large tree nymph to distinguish it from a similarly colored, smaller butterfly, the Ideopsis juventa or small wood nymph. Both of these butterflies are part of the brush-footed butterflies, or family Nymphalidae.
Your best bet to see one of these, outside of their natural habitat, is in a butterfly house or conservatory. Keep an eye out for butterfly exhibits that may come to your local area. I have always thought of butterflies as "flying flowers" for obvious reasons. I took the picture of the paper kite above and just loved the tropical pink flower behind it, and felt lucky that he stopped flying long enough for me to get this picture.
More details about the Paper Kite
The wingspan of the paper kite is generally about 6 inches across or 15cm. They eat flower nectar like many other butterflies do. When you see them flying, their wings have a slower rhythmic fluttering than some other butterflies do, which makes them all the more beautiful and magical as they are flying about.
They live just below the forest canopy and enjoy the coastal regions. Of the "milkweed butterflies," this one is the largest. The subfamily is called Danainae. When you hear about the slower flying pattern, you may think this would be helpful to hungry predators. Their predators learn that they don't taste very good, so it is a helpful survival trait.
The pupae of the paper kite is a bright gold color, which is very different from the final colors when it emerges as the beautiful butterfly that we enjoy.
Philippines & Malaysia, home to Paper Kite Butterflies
Paper kite Butterfly Poll
Have you ever seen a Paper Kite Butterfly in person, like in a conservatory or in its natural habitat?
© 2010 Paula