Finally, after some very irrelevant posts about overrated kitty cafes and some unforgettable Taiwanese food (just finished dinner… thinking about smelly tofu makes me hungry again), it’s time to come back to the main subject: Taiwanese butterflies.

We were not expecting to photograph many butterflies.  The best time to visit Taiwan to photograph butterflies is in Summer (June, July) where the weather is warm and balmy.  Nonetheless, we got ourselves a bigger haul than expected.  Grab your pillows this is going to be a long post.

To help myself and to make this post more informative for photographers heading to Taiwan, I will be organising my butterflies according to location.  Here we go…

Sun Moon Lake (Ri Yue Tan/日月滩)

When we arrived in Taiwan, it was raining heavily and we were not expecting to see any butterflies since we were leaving Sun Moon Lake early the next morning.  For this trip, we stayed at Itta Thao Pier.  Along the pier, there is a trail which leads past some small shops and some inns, along which you can find flower gardens and small weeds along the roads.  The sun came out the next day and we managed to photograph these few butterflies during the short window before being shuttled off to our next location.

Badamia exclamationis

Papilio helenus fortunius

Papilio helenus fortunius

Peacock Garden (孔雀园)

Our next location is Peacock Garden.  This is someway along the way to Pu Li.  Peacock Garden is really… a nice where they keep several peacocks behind some short stone fences and the peacocks strut around nonchalantly.  Round and about this garden are thick foliage on the paths leading to enclosures where … I supposed… young peacocks are kept (anyway, there are some peacocks wandering inside the enclosures draped with dark cloth.  Amongst the thick foliage are a good number of butterflies, mostly small Lycaenids, lots of skippers, some crows and one precious Delias.

Delias pasithoe curasena – We found this butterfly fluttering restlessly over the road next to the carpark.

Euploea mulciber barsine – This crow refused to grace us with its presence on a lower branch

Nacaduba berenice leei – This butterfly has a bright blue upperside and is a fast flier

I couldn’t ID this butterfly. It wouldn’t give me a shot of its rich chocolate underside.


Telicota ohara formosana

Caltoris cahira austeni

Small Town Community Around Peacock Garden

There is a little park that stretches around a community area within a small neighbourhood close to the Peacock Garden which has several small farms.  Here I was charged by a shaggy dog as I had unwittingly (could I say unwittingly…. it did occur to me after that that I had trespassed onto private property) crawled over a farmer’s stone fence barrier in an attempt to photograph a large tiger butterfly.  I hadn’t noticed the dog was there.  But after it gave me a few warning barks, I was stuck in a dilemma of whether to let the butterfly go its merry way and back off or attempt to risk confronting Shaggy.  After a small cautious step, Shaggy charged forward growling and barking, something which I had not anticipated, having never really been charged at by a large fluffy dog.  I was stunned and I suppose, halted in my tracks to welcome Shaggy’s I-thought-I-told-you-to-GO-AWAY bite.  When the farmer returned just in time in his car and told the dog to back off!  I apologised for my intrusion and explained that I wanted to photograph the butterfly in his… front porch.  He said: “Go ahead! Don’t worry about the dog! He won’t bite!”

Tirumala limniace limniace – not an uncommon butterfly. There were many individuals around but at the point of confronting Fluffy this still had not occurred to me.

Shaggy, at being severely denigrated in front of an outsider from charging fearsome guard dog to a fluffy one with no bite, slunk away unhappily into the shadows of the large house, watching me with disdain as I crawled closer to my subject.  Minutes later, he emerged from the house with a small toddler clutching onto his fur, further reinforcing his image as the Cuddly One.

Tirumala limniace limniace – This individual was dying, which was why it was staying so still. The one in Fluffy’s front porch would not stay within 3 metres of my presence.

Danaus genutia – Another common butterfly in Taiwan. They can be found in the waysides and amongst grasses and weeds

Danaus chrysippus – Another common butterfly flying in close company to the butterfly above.

Catochrysops panormus exiguus – This small fast flying individual was hanging around outside Fluffy’s front porch. Not sure if it’s very common. Did not encounter it again (but did not investigate every similar sized Lycaenid that came our way)

Neng Gao Bridge (能高桥) and Neng Gao Waterfall (能高瀑布) (Literal Translation: Can Be Tall Bridge and Can Be Tall Waterfall)

Our next destination is a location we had also visited the last round.  However, I don’t remember encountering the seemingly mosquito like flock of small Lycaenids that flocked the area in droves.

Papilio hermosanus

Celatoxia marginata – one of the Lycaenids flocking the area

Junonia iphita – this territorial butterfly attempted to chase me away by swooping down on my head repeatedly. Go away… or I’ll… I’ll mess up your hair! – cried the butterfly.

Ixias pyrene insignis – This pretty butterfly is common in Taiwan and can be found in almost all of the sites we visited.

Athyma cama zoroastes – This butterfly flies in similar fashion to the Singaporean Commander butterfly. Fast in flight and extremely skittish, it takes a long while to approach the butterfly. It is, however, not so alert when feeding on … dog shit.

Nan Shan Xi Pu Bu (南山溪瀑布) (Literal Translation: South Hill Stream Waterfall)

At Nan Shan Xi, we visited two sections of the area… one upstream and one further downstream.  Photographing the butterflies here was difficult.  We had to climb down steep rocks and the butterflies, as with most of the butterflies in Taiwan, were extremely hard to approach.  They did not seem to tolerate the presence of photographers well and tended to fly away even at 3 metres distance away from the butterfly.  I don’t know whether this is attributed to the fact that there is considerable hunting of butterflies that they don’t take well to human presence or whether it’s due to the fact that there was a blistering sun going on that day and the butterflies were on an energy high.

Delias hyparete luzonensis – we encountered this other beautiful Delias very very early in the morning beside my roadside flowers

Discophora sondaica tulliana – This cleverly camouflaged butterfly was sitting quietly hoping that we wouldn’t notice it.

Junonia lemonias aenaria – The Lemon Pansy is common.

Zizeeria karsandra

Papilio memnon heronis

Papilio nephelus chaonulus

Papilio nephelus chaonulus

Neptis taiwana

Tirula septentrionis – the only cooperative butterfly in the entire Nan Shan Xi Waterfall area.

This is getting to be too big a post.  Next up in my next post: Cai Die Pu Bu (Butterfly Waterfall) and Da Keng Butterfly Garden.

  1. Lauri says:

    I so enjoy your posts.
    Also, they always make me think about how many people pass by these butterflies every minute of every day and don’t even notice. They are missing out on so much~!

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