Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus)

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2023 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.    

8885_female_Hérault_4Aug07 8864_female_Hérault_4Aug07 8879_female_Hérault_4Aug07

This is a magnificent and huge butterfly. It occurs in France only in the extreme southern central coastal areas. It is another misnomer because there is nothing plain about it. There were several females at this site, no apparent males, so perhaps it was near the end of its flight period.


They all seemed to be preoccupied with egg-laying on what I originally thought was Larger Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) as in 8879. T&L says that the larval hostplant in southern Europe is Asclepias curassavica (English name: Bloodflower), adding that "Reported use of Calystegia sepium (English name: Hedge Bindweed) requires confirmation". As the plant was clearly not A. curassavica, I just assumed that it was C. sepium.

However, I should have consulted TLFr which gives more explicit France-oriented information, stating that chrysippus uses A. curassavica in the Côte d'Azur but Cynanchum acutum (English name: Montpelier Scammony Plant) in Hérault. And Hérault is where I saw it, so the plant is C. acutum. Thanks to Tim Cowles for the detective work.


The site was a protected coastal area, with a high chain-link fence to deter intruders, although I suspect that the intended beneficiaries of the protection were sea birds rather than chrysippus. Hence these photographs were taken through the fence at a distance of around 3m, not ideal for a macro lens.
ref sex


alt. m
8885 F

a rare glimpse of the upperside of this female as it takes a brief rest from its almost-constant egg-laying.

8864 F

a female, at rest and showing the underside.

8879 F

it can just about be seen that this female is egg-laying on the underside of a fresh leaf of C. acutum (see above).