Common Map Butterfly: Identification, Life Cycle, and Behavior

Discover the world of Common Map Butterflies, some of nature’s most fascinating creatures.

You’ll learn everything from identifying their markings, decoding their mating rituals to understanding their unique mimicry behaviors.

Step into their world and gain a deeper understanding of these beautiful insects.

Common Map Butterfly (Cyrestis thyodamas)

What is the Classification of Common Map Butterfly?

The Common Map Butterfly, known scientifically as Cyrrestis thyodamas, belongs to the Nymphalidae family.

This family, the largest of the butterfly families, is home to approximately 6,000 species worldwide.

The Nymphalidae family forms part of the Lepidoptera order, encompassing both butterflies and moths.

Here is a simple rundown of its classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Cyrrestis
  • Species: C. thyodamas, the Common Map

Species in the Cyrrestis genus are distinguished by their broad, flat wings and distinctive, intricate vein patterns that resemble geographic maps.

The common map, in particular, is lauded for its intricate, elegant design and wide color palette, which includes hues of creamy white, deep brown, and black.

Notably, the Common Map Butterfly’s underwing pattern changes dramatically through its adulthood, an unusual trait in the butterfly world.

In summary, the Common Map Butterfly is a distinct and fascinating member of the diverse and prolific Nymphalidae family.

It delights experts and enthusiasts with its unique wing patterns, compositional complexity, and variable color palette.

It’s a remarkable testament to the beauty that nature, and the animal kingdom, can produce.

What is the Distribution of Common Map Butterfly?

The Common Map Butterfly is primarily found across the tropical regions. However, its distribution is quite extensive spanning across different continents.

Most commonly, these butterflies frequent South Asia and Southeast Asia. Places like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, parts of Indonesia, and Malaysia are their primary habitats.

In addition to Asia, you may find the common map butterfly in parts of Australia as well. However, their population is much denser in Asian countries.

The species has even extended its range to Western China, although sporadically.

The common map butterfly can occur in a variety of habitats, from the savannah, forests, to even human disturbed areas. But, they can best thrive in warm, tropical climates, proving to be quite versatile in terms of habitat preference.

One notable aspect is the butterfly’s elevational range. This fluctuates greatly, from sea level up to 8000 feet (2438 meters) in the Himalayas.

This adaptability is quite remarkable, illustrating the resilience and flexibility of the common map butterfly.

While the common map butterfly is widespread, it’s density varies depending on the region, climate, and habitat accessibility.

This widespread distribution not only adds to the global biodiversity but strenghtens the species durability in the face of potential climate changes.

What are the Main Characteristics of the Common Map Butterfly?

Common map butterflies are known for their unique appearance, which sets them apart from most of the other butterfly species.

Their wingspan averages between 1.5 to 2 inches – or 3.8 to 5.1cm. The upper sides of their wings have an intricate pattern of black on a pale grey base.

Their design resembles a geographical map, hence their name. The ‘map’ on the wings is a blend of stripes and spots making each butterfly look like an exquisitely painted masterpiece.

Intriguingly, these patterns can vary remarkably from butterfly to butterfly.

  • Seasonal Dimorphism: one of the rare features exhibited by this butterfly species is seasonal dimorphism. This means the wing pattern tends to change with seasons. The ‘summer broods’ have more white markings while the ‘winter broods’ have more beige markings.
  • Body Structure: Regarding its body structure, it is smoothly rounded at the edges. The body – thorax and abdomen – is primarily black with some white spots.
  • Antennae: They possess long, clubbed antennae used for balancing flight and for sensing their environment.
  • Camouflage: These patterns don’t just make them exquisite to look at but also provide a camouflage against predators – clever, isn’t it?

Additionally, the underside of the wings features distinct eyespots which confuse potential predators.

This unique combination of traits makes the common map butterfly a remarkable species to study.

How to Identify Male and Female Common Map Butterfly?

When identifying the gender of a Common Map Butterfly, look at the wing patterns and body size.

Males typically possess smaller bodies and more distinct color patterns compared to females.

  • Male Common Map butterflies sport a radiant blue hue on the upper side of their wings, emphasized by black lines that resemble a road map, hence the name. Comparatively, the females exhibit a more muted shade with less vibrant color saturation and sketching.
  • Body size, in particular, is a defining factor. With a wingspan ranging from 7.5 to 9.5 cm (approx. 3 to 3.75 inches), males are visibly smaller than females, whose wings span from 8 to 10 cm (approx. 3.15 to 3.94 inches).

Remember, these distinctions become most apparent when the butterflies take flight.

So, next time you spot what appears to be a Map butterfly irising and fluttering in the sun, take a moment to observe these intricate details.

This way, you’ll quickly learn to differentiate between the males and females.

What is the Mating Ritual of Common Map Butterfly?

The mating ritual of the Common Map Butterflies is a fascinating display of nature’s dance. Males usually start by demonstrating their fitness.

They take to the air, showcasing their vibrant colors and unique wing patterns.

  • The male pursues a likely female, fluttering around her and showing off her prospective mate’s impressive display.
  • If the female is receptive, she permits the male to land on her and the mating process ensues. The duet does not conclude immediately after copulation.
  • In fact, the coupled butterflies often remain attached for several hours before disengaging.

Mating usually occurs in the early morning hours. Interestingly, after successful copulation, the male secretes a substance that forms a protective “mating plug.”

This plug prevents other males from mating with the female.

This unique and intricate ritual of the Common Map Butterfly ensures the survival of their species.

So, the next time you spot these butterflies, take a moment to appreciate their delicate dance of continuation.

What Does the Caterpillar of Common Map Butterfly Look Like?

The caterpillars of the Common Map Butterfly are easily identified. Marked unusually with bold alternating stripes and fine hairs, these creatures are a delight to the eyes.

Particularly, they flaunt vivid yellow and black stripes, running longitudinally down their bodies.

  • The body is cylindrical and elongated, perfect to navigate among plant stems.
  • A conspicuous feature is the two prong-shaped tails at the rear end, enhancing their striking look.
  • Furthermore, their head capsule is black, contrasting against the brilliant stripes.
  • Measuring about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) when fully grown, they’re not easily missed.

This brilliant coloring serves as warning signals to predators, indicating the caterpillar’s distastefulness.

Avoiding it will be wise, not for its harmfulness, but you’ll be preserving a future colorful delight.

What is the Life Cycle of Common Map Butterfly?

The life cycle of a Common Map Butterfly follows the same standard four stages as other butterflies: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Firstly, after mating, the female butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of host plant leaves. Each egg is tiny, only about 1 millimeter, or a tiny fraction of an inch, in diameter. This stage typically lasts for about 2 weeks.

When the caterpillar, also known as the larva, hatches, it starts feeding on the leaves immediately. As it grows and develops, it will molt and shed its exoskeleton several times.

This larval stage usually lasts for 3-4 weeks.

Next, the caterpillar forms a protective casing around itself, referred to as the pupa or chrysalis. During this stage, it undergoes a complete transformation, or metamorphosis.

Remarkably, what emerges after 15-20 days is a fully grown adult butterfly.

The adult butterflies spend their time feeding on nectar from flowers and seeking a partner to mate. They may live for about 1 month, or even longer in optimal conditions.

As a species, the Common Map Butterfly is notable for its ability to produce multiple generations in a year.

What Is the Average Life Expectancy of a Common Map Butterfly?

How long a common map butterfly can expect to live is a fascinating subject? On average, the map butterfly lives for about one month.

However, just like with humans, the life expectancy can vary widely.

  • Species and Environment – Different types or species of butterflies can live for different lengths of time. In addition, the environment in which they live can also be a major factor. An environment with fewer predators and plenty of food sources can lead to a longer life.
  • Stage of Life – Another crucial factor is their stage of life. After hatching from the egg, the caterpillar phase lasts for about 2 weeks. The butterfly will then spend around 10 days in the chrysalis stage before becoming an adult.
  • Adult Life – Once it has reached the adult stage, the common map butterfly will usually live for a further 2-4 weeks, depending on conditions.

Therefore, while one month is a rough average, the actual lifespan could be slightly longer or shorter depending on a variety of factors.

Nonetheless, the beautiful and intricate design of these creatures makes their relatively brief life span all the more precious.

What Does the Diet of a Common Map Butterfly Consist Of?

The diet of a Common Map Butterfly is quite specific. In its larval stage, the butterfly primarily feeds on the leaves of various host plants, being particularly partial to plants from the Acanthaceae family.

As an adult, the Common Map Butterfly subsists on a diet that revolves around nectar from flowers.

They particularly favor flowers with high sugar content, but are not overly picky and will feed on a variety of different types of flowers.

While the Common Map Butterfly can obtain some moisture and nutrients from puddling, which is the act of landing on damp ground or shallow water to absorb salts and minerals, the primary source of nutrition and energy for the butterfly’s flight comes from flower nectar.

The commonly observed flowers they visit are Lantana, Buddleia, Stonecrop, Mallow, Marjoram, and other flowering plants.

At times, these butterflies may also show an affinity for ripe fruits, feeding on the juices.

In a nutshell, the Common Map butterfly has a diet that is reliant on the biodiversity of flowering plants and their nectar within their environment.

This profound dependence serves as a timely reminder about the overarching importance of maintaining thriving ecosystems and plant diversity.

Which Plants Serve as the Primary Hosts for Common Map Butterfly?

As a caterpillar, the Common Map Butterfly relies heavily on certain plants for survival. These plants, which serve as their primary hosts, provide a safe place for laying eggs and a ready source of food for the emerging larvae.

One of the favorite host plants of this species is the Ficus family, in particular, Ficus racemosa, also known as the cluster fig tree.

The leaves of this tree provide the necessary nutrients for the caterpillar to grow and prepare for metamorphosis.

Not only that, but these fig trees offer the perfect environment for the eggs, ensuring their safety and survival.

Other plants include the Morus species, such as the mulberry tree. Mulberries provide an equally nourishing and protective environment for the larvae.

It has been noted that Morus trees are specifically sought out by female Common Map Butterflies during the egg-laying procedure.

In addition to these, they also lavish on plants like Celtis and Trema species: similar kind of small trees that bear fruit and are commonly found across the butterfly’s geographical range.

In conclusion, the Common Map Butterfly relies heavily on Ficus, Morus, Celtis, and Trema species as primary host plants during their caterpillar phase.

These invaluable hosts provide the necessities for the survival and growth of this beautiful creature until it transforms to complete its life cycle.

What are the Unique Mimicry Behaviors in Common Map Butterfly?

The Common Map Butterfly (Cyrestis thyodamas), like many other species of butterflies, employs a strategy known as mimicry to survive.

This tactic is a fascinating part of their behavior, allowing them to deceive potential predators.

  • Resemblance to a Dead Leaf: The most remarkable mimicry behavior seen in the Common Map Butterfly is its remarkable resemblance to a dead leaf. This clever disguise, with its map-like patterns, successfully confuses predators. By resting with their wings closed, they blend in with their surroundings, appearing just like a dead leaf fallen on the ground.
  • Diverse Patterns: The Common Map Butterfly exhibits drastic variations in their wing patterns. This is due to polyphenism, a phenomenon where multiple distinct traits can originate from the same genes. This wide range of patterns achieves a dual purpose – providing camouflage and allowing mimicry of other species.
  • Mimicking Toxic Species: Some wing patterns of the Common Map Butterfly mimic those of toxic butterflies within their habitat. This deceit deters potential predators, who’ve learned to avoid the unpleasant taste of toxic butterflies.

In brief, the Common Map Butterfly’s mimicry game is impressive. Their survival, in part, relies on their ability to effectively mimic their environment and other species, making them a fascinating subject for butterfly enthusiasts.

What Are the Main Threats to Common Map Butterfly Populations?

The Common Map Butterfly, like any other wildlife species, faces a range of threats that pose significant danger to its continued existence.

Firstly, habitat loss and fragmentation presents a major risk. With continual encroachment of urban development into natural landscapes, the Common Map Butterfly is rapidly losing its habitat.

This situation is made even worse by the fragmentation of these habitats, often transforming once large, continuous areas into isolated patches.

In addition to these physical changes, climate change also has a pronounced effect on butterfly populations.

Changes in weather patterns can impact the production of the butterfly’s host plants. As these climate conditions become more extreme, it may force populations to migrate to new areas or risk decline.

Furthermore, invasive species pose a significant risk. The introduction of non-native plants or animals can disrupt the ecosystem, directly or indirectly affecting the Common Map Butterfly.

This could be through competition for resources, predation, or disruption of the butterfly’s host plants.

Lastly, the use of pesticides in agricultural practices can be lethal to many butterfly species. The Common Map Butterfly, with its reliance on specific host plants, is especially vulnerable to such broad-spectrum pesticides.

These chemicals can destroy host plants or poison the butterflies directly.

As you can see, the threats faced by the Common Map Butterfly are multi-faceted and urgent.

It is therefore important for appropriate conservation strategies to be put in place to ensure the survival and ongoing success of this species.


In conclusion, the common map butterfly, with its distinctive markings, interesting life cycle, and unique behaviors, is a fascinating species.

Despite facing certain threats, their remarkable mimicry skills aid survival. Can you share your experiences or thoughts on this intriguing insect?

We encourage comments and discussions.

Butterflies   Updated: September 21, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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