|Scientific Name||Danaus chrysippus|
|Distribution||Africa and southern Europe, eastwards via Sri Lanka, India, and Myanmar to China , Java and Sulawesi|
|Alternative Names||African Monarch,African queen, Lesser wanderer|
|Regional Names||(カバマダラ kabamadara)|
Danaus chrysippus, known as the Plain Tiger or African Monarch, is a common butterfly which is widespread in Asia and Africa. It belongs to the Danainae ("Milkweed butterflies") subfamily of the brush-footed butterfly family, Nymphalidae. It is a medium-sized, non-edible butterfly, which is mimicked by multiple species. The Plain Tiger is believed to be one of the first butterflies to be used in art. A 3500 year old Egyptian fresco in Luxor features the oldest illustration of this species.
Despite the external similarity, the Common Tiger is not closely related to this species. Three subspecies are considered valid in a 2005 review:
- Danaus chrysippus chrysippus
Asia, Mediterranean region, northern tropical Africa
- Danaus chrysippus alcippus (Cramer, 1777) - formerly D. c. aegyptius
From the Cape Verde Islands through tropical Africa to Yemen and Oman. Browner with broader white forewing spots.
- Danaus chrysippus orientis (Aurivillius, 1909) - formerly D. c. liboria
Saint Helena, southern tropical Africa to South Africa, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Small white forewing spots.
D. c. alcippus is well on the way of becoming a distinct species.
On the other hand, the former subspecies petilia is nowadays recognized as a good species, the Lesser Wanderer. More enigmatic is the status of the former subspecies (or forms) dorippus and bataviana. These are tentatively also regarded as a distinct species, the "Dorippus Tiger" (Danaus dorippus).
However, it appears (from analysis of mtDNA sequences, which are only inherited from the mother) that the Dorippus Tiger is the product of an ancient lineage of Danaus hybridizing with Plain Tiger females. As the Plain Tiger is known to be parasitized at least occasionally by Spiroplasma bacteria which selectively kill off male hosts, a subsequent scarcity of Plain Tiger males might have led to this hybridization and the evolution of the Dorippus Tiger. From the color pattern of this species, it can be assumed that the ancient lineage had no black apex on the forewings, as this character is still absent in D. dorippus.
The presumed subspecies cratippus most likely belongs to either the Lesser Wanderer or the Dorippus Tiger, but confirmation of its taxonomic status requires more research. In any case, these three species are closely related; their closest relatives, in turn, might be the Soldier (D. eresimus) and Queen (D. gilippus) butterflies.
Several local forms have been described from Asia:
- Danaus chrysippus chrysippus f. alcippoides
The upper hindwing is more or less very white; about half of the individuals have a second submarginal spot in the forewing. Occasionally found in Southeast Asia, very rarely in India.
- Danaus chrysippus chrysippus f. gelderi
The upper hindwing has white markings. Occasionally found on Sulawesi.
- Danaus chrysippus chrysippus f. bowringi
The upper hindwing has a subapical band composed of somewhat larger spots, and an additional forewing spot as in f. alcippoides is always present. Found throughout the eastern parts of this subspecies' range.
On the other hand, the plethora of named taxa from Africa are apparently F1 or F2 hybrids between the Plain Tiger subspecies (the contact zone of which is in the general area of Uganda) and/or D. dorippus:
- Danaus chrysippus × alcippoides
is D. c. chrysippus × D. c. alcippus
- Danaus × transiens, Danaus × klugii, Danaus × albinus and Danaus × semialbinus
are D. c. alcippus × D. dorippus
it is mimicked by a variety of species including
- Argyreus hyperbius
- Hypolimnas misippus
- Cethosia cyane
- papilio dardanus
- Elymnias hypermnestra
- Cethosia nietneri
The plain tiger inhabits open, fairly arid areas rather than the moisture drenched habitats typical of the jungles found in the Old World. Unlike other members of the Danaus genus, the plain tiger often flies in open sunlight, even at the hottest point of the day . Throughout its life as a caterpillar, it can be found wherever species of the milkweed family (Asclepiadoideae) grow, particularly on its favoured species, the crown flower (Calotropis gigantea).
This butterfly can be found throughout the Old World tropics, from Africa to Southeast Asia and Australasia .it has been discovered that there are three subspecies; Danaus chrysippus chrysippus which is found in Asia and tropical Africa, Danaus chrysippus alcippus which ranges from the Cape Verde Islands, across Africa to Oman, and Danaus chrysippus orientis which is mainly found in tropical Africa and the surrounding islands including Madagascar and the Seychelles.
| Known species
Danaus affinis - Danaus chrysippus - Danaus cleophile - Danaus dorippus - Danaus eresimus - Danaus erippus - Danaus genutia - Danaus gilippus - Danaus ismare - Danaus melanippus- Danaus petilia - Danaus plexippus -