Common Tiger Butterfly: Identification, Life Cycle, and Behavior

In this article, you’ll explore the fascinating world of Common Tiger Butterflies.

You’ll learn about their identification, life cycle, and intriguing behavior patterns.

Get ready to dive into details about their characteristics, diet, reproduction, and the unique mimicry behaviors that set them apart.

Common Tiger (Danaus genutia)

What is the Classification of Common Tiger Butterfly?

The Common Tiger Butterfly, scientifically known as Danaus genutia, is part of the extensive order Lepidoptera.

That’s a fancy term which basically includes all butterflies and moths. However, not all butterflies are the same.

  • Family: They belong to the family Nymphalidae, often recognized for their vibrantly colored markings and unique wing shapes.
    • Also, most members of this family have shorter forelegs, which gives an appearance of having four legs instead of six.
  • Genus: Common Tiger butterflies fall under the genus Danaus, which houses over 300 species worldwide.
    • These are mainly tropical butterflies known for their long migrations.
  • Species: Our particular butterfly, the Danaus genutia is one of the 12 species recognized under this genus.
    • Interestingly, it’s also commonly known as the Striped Tiger in parts of its geographical distribution.

This classification helps to gain an understanding of where this magnificent butterfly fits into the broader natural world.

With a better understanding of its place in the taxonomy comes a clearer picture of its behavior, life cycle, and unique characteristics.

What is the Distribution of Common Tiger Butterfly?

The Common Tiger Butterfly (Danaus genutia) displays a wide geographical distribution. This species thrives chiefly in tropical and subtropical regions.

An avid traveler, you can find this attractive insect across various continents spanning from Asia to Australia.

Countries like India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and China are known hotspots. The butterfly also extends its presence all the way to the Philippine archipelago, New Guinea, and even as south as Australia.

You can often spot this butterfly in open habitats such as pastures, gardens, and parks. The Common Tiger Butterfly isn’t a stickler for altitude and could be found at elevations between sea level and 2,600 meters (around 8,500 feet).

It’s also common in secondary vegetation spaces, a feature that advertises the butterfly’s adaptive capacities.

In summary, the distribution of the Common Tiger Butterfly is vast, covering multiple geographic locations predominantly in Asia and Australia.

Adaptability is key to its successful distribution, evident in its presence in diverse altitudes and habitats.

What are the Main Characteristics of the Common Tiger Butterfly?

The Common Tiger Butterfly stands out for its exceptional beauty. With a wingspan of 70-80 millimeters, or 2.75 to 3.15 inches, it’s an attractive medium-sized butterfly.

In flight, you’ll see vibrant black and fiery orange stripes, which is why “Tiger” figures in its common name.

These butterflies possess multiple white spots on their dorsal sides. On the underside, an array of intricate designs and markings bring complexity to their visual appeal.

A significant characteristic is a blue centerpiece on the hindwing, encrusted with red ornamentation.

Adding to its charm, the Common Tiger Butterfly employs an unusual attribute known as aposematism.

That’s the use of bright colors to warn predators of its unpleasant taste or poisonous defence. This flamboyant display is a form of survival strategy, making these butterflies a fascinating study.

These are the key characteristics that make the Common Tiger Butterfly distinct:

  • Wingspan: Approximately 70-80mm or 2.75 to 3.15 inches.
  • Color: Predominantly black with fiery orange stripes.
  • Design: Multiple white spots on top, with intricate designs and markings underneath.
  • Defense Strategy: Aposematic coloration signaling potential danger to predators.

Remember, these are just the physical characteristics. Let’s delve deeper into the lifestyle, mating behavior, diet, and threats to this captivating creature in the following sections.

Your knowledge of the Common Tiger Butterfly is just beginning to emerge, much like the butterfly from its cocoon.

How to Identify Male and Female Common Tiger Butterfly?

Identifying the gender of the Common Tiger Butterfly, scientifically known as Danaus genutia, can be quite a task for beginners.

But don’t worry, once you learn the key differences, it will be a walk in the park.

The Size Primarily, the size can be a factor in the differentiation. The female Common Tiger butterfly tends to be larger than the males.

The Color and Patterns Next, pay attention to the color and patterns. Males usually have brighter and more vibrant colors compared to their female counterparts.

This is specifically to attract females during the mating season. Females, on the other hand, are often paler due to their role of camouflage and protection of eggs.

The Hindwings A very distinguishing feature lies in their hindwings. Males have a specialised spot on one of their veins. It’s a tiny pocket in their wing structure. This pocket releases pheromones for attracting the females.

The Abdomen Finally, look at the abdomen. The abdomen of a male Common Tiger Butterfly is slender and pointed, while that of a female is broader and more rounded.

This is because females carry eggs in their bodies.

In conclusion, focus on these characteristics – size, color patterns, hindwings and abdomen shape – to identify the sex of a Common Tiger Butterfly.

It might seem challenging at first, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Remember, the differences are subtle, so observe with patience.

What is the Mating Ritual of Common Tiger Butterfly?

The mating ritual of the Common Tiger Butterfly is a fascinating spectacle. Male butterflies seek out females by their scent, following trails left by the females during flight.

The pheromones are of vital importance in this courtship dance. After trailing the female, male butterfly then attempts to court her.

Male Common Tiger Butterflies perform a variety of displays. From aerobatic flights to competitive chase sequences, all to capture the female’s attention.

If successful, the butterflies progress to the next stage – mating.

During mating, males have been observed to pass on a nourishing spermatophore, or protein packet, to the female along with sperm.

This aids the female butterfly in egg production, adding interesting nuances to this butterfly’s mating ritual.

Post mating, the females lay their fertilized eggs on their host plants. This signals the end of the mating ritual as both butterflies go their separate ways, thus continuing the life cycle of the Common Tiger Butterfly.

The ritual maintains the populations and aids in the continuation of their species.

Remember, mating rituals do vary across different butterfly species, but the overarching steps are generally the same.

Endowed with an innate behavior pattern, the Common Tiger Butterfly’s mating ritual offers a peek of nature’s sophistication and complexity.

What Does the Caterpillar of Common Tiger Butterfly Look Like?

The Common Tiger Butterfly, or Danaus genutia, has a caterpillar that is truly fascinating to observe.

Initially, these caterpillars are tiny, barely reaching 0.08 inches (2mm) in length. However, they grow rapidly, eventually reaching sizes of up to 1.8 inches (45 mm).

Their bodies are cylindrical in shape, fluctuating between shades of soft green and vibrant yellow. This color variation serves as a perfect camouflage amidst the foliage.

The caterpillars feature white and black bands running their length, a characteristic often likened to tiger stripes.

Undoubtedly, the most striking feature is their pair of black, yellow, and white colored tentacles.

Serving as pseudo antennae, these appendages are always in constant motion, lending the caterpillar a mystic charm.

One should not be tricked by their adorable charm. These caterpillars house a fair amount of toxicity within their bodies.

Owing to the ingestion of tropane alkaloids from their host plants, they are unpalatable, if not outright poisonous, to numerous predators.

Needless to say, every characteristic of these caterpillars, from the shifty tentacles to the stunning color palette, has been masterfully designed by nature for survival.

In summary, the Common Tiger Butterfly caterpillar is not only a visual treat but a testament to nature’s ingenious ways of protection and camouflage.

Despite their toxic make-up, they pose no harm to humans, unless consumed, making them a true marvel to observe and study.

What is the Life Cycle of Common Tiger Butterfly?

The life cycle of a Common Tiger Butterfly, like most butterflies, comprises of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Each stage presents a different physical form and serves a unique purpose in the butterfly’s development.

To start, the female butterfly lays her eggs on the leaves of the host plants. These spherical, white eggs are usually laid on the underside of the plant leaves, providing them with some level of protection.

Upon hatching, the caterpillars emerge, ready to eat and grow. They spend most of their time eating the leaves of the host plant.

As they consume and grow, they shed their skin, or ‘molt’, several times. This larval stage is a critical phase of growth and transformation.

After a few molts, the caterpillar transforms into a pupa or chrysalis. This stage is when the magic happens.

Indoors this stationary structure, the caterpillar undergoes a complete metamorphosis and emerges as a fully grown butterfly. This transformation can take 1-2 weeks.

Once the adult butterfly emerges, it still needs a few hours to prepare for its active life. It takes this time to allow blood to pump into its wings to facilitate flying.

They then feed on nectar and start the cycle anew by mating and laying eggs.

To summarise, the life cycle of the Common Tiger Butterfly, from egg to adult, is a fantastic journey of transformation and renewal.

Each phase is characterized by different forms, activities, and modes of nutrition, constituting evolution in its most beautiful manifestation.

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

When we consider the lifespan of a Common Tiger Butterfly, it typically spans around two weeks to a month. This calculated duration is related to the adult butterfly stage.

Responding to various external factors such as predation, diseases and changing weather conditions, this lifespan can fluctuate.

  • Yet, if we were to evaluate the life expectancy of this butterfly from its initial stage, it tends to be much longer. Beginning as an egg, followed by the caterpillar and pupa stages before emerging as a butterfly, the entire course stretches to about five to six weeks.

Such transformative periods are distinguished by an array of vibrant behavioral and physical changes.

Keep in mind that temperaturehumidity and the availability of food sources are primary factors affecting these stages and the butterfly’s life expectancy.

Returning to the context of the imago or adult Common Tiger Butterfly, their lifespan is often cut short due to their navigational challengesfood scarcity, and the risks posed by predators. Ageing, of course, is also a natural contributor.

Thus, the life expectancy of a Common Tiger Butterfly is not solely marked by calendar days. It is a complex interplay of numerous stages and environmental influences.

Just as we humans do, these beautiful creatures encounter numerous challenges and changes throughout their lifecycles.

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

The diet of a Common Tiger Butterfly, also scientifically known as Danaus genutia, principally consists of nectar from flowers.

As adults, these butterflies feed on numerous types of flowering plants. They have a particular predilection for those bearing bright flowers.

Their proboscis, a long coiled tube-like tongue, helps them extract nectar from the deepest parts of flowers. They often favor open, tube-shaped blossoms which yield an abundance of sweet nectar.

  • Some favored nectar sources include:
    1. Lantana
    2. Ixora
    3. Zinnia
    4. Hibiscus

Despite the adult Common Tiger Butterfly’s sweet diet, the caterpillars have a slightly more specialized diet. These caterpillars primarily feed on the leaves of plants from the Asclepias genus (Milkweed).

Remember, the availability of suitable host plants for the caterpillars can be a decisive factor in ideal habitat for reproduction.

Hence, while determining the diet of a Common Tiger Butterfly, it’s crucial to consider life stage-specific nutrition to ensure their survival and growth.

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

As you navigate the fascinating world of the Common Tiger Butterfly, you’ll notice they have a unique dependency on certain plants.

Their primary hosts are plants from the Apocynaceae family, specifically those in the Nerium and Calotropis genus.

Consider Nerium oleander and Calotropis gigantea. Both of these plants are favorites of the Common Tiger Butterfly for laying eggs.

The caterpillars then consume the leaves and mature on these plants, making them not just hosts, but also crucial to the butterfly’s life cycle.

Interestingly, Calotropis gigantea plants contain toxins that Common Tiger Butterfly caterpillars can tolerate, making them less appealing to predators.

On the other hand, the list includes other favorite host plants such as Tabernaemontana divaricata, also known as the ‘Crepe Jasmine.’

This plant has ornamental features with distinctly beautiful white flowers, necessary for the butterfly’s nectar diet.

  • Nerium oleander
  • Calotropis gigantea
  • Tabernaemontana divaricata

Focusing on how these plants are critical for the butterfly’s survival underlines the importance of preserving these specific flora.

As you see, the habitats of these butterflies must contain these plants for continued proliferation of the Common Tiger Butterfly.

If you are enthusiastic about butterflies and gardening, consider incorporating these plants into your outdoor space.

You might be fortunate enough to witness the incredible life cycle of the Common Tiger Butterfly firsthand.

What are the Unique Mimicry Behaviors in Common Tiger Butterfly?

Nature has endowed the Common Tiger Butterfly with a unique mechanism – Mimicry. Mimicry in butterflies is a survival strategy where a harmless species evolves to look like a harmful or unpalatable one to deceive predators.

The Common Tiger Butterfly, for instance, is noted for its Batesian mimicry. This is where a harmless species mimics a harmful or toxic one to evade predators.

The butterfly’s striking colors are not just for show, they send a loud and clear message to would-be predators- ‘I am toxic, stay away’.

Featuring bold, high-contrast stripes that alternate between yellow, orange, and black, the Common Tiger Butterfly remarkably resembles the distasteful and poisonous Monarch butterfly.

This striking resemblance between the two species can bewilder predators, deterring them from attacking the Common Tiger Butterflies.

It’s a bold move in the game of survival. Predators, taking one look at the Common Tiger Butterfly, mistake it for the bitter-tasting Monarch and promptly veer off to find tastier and safer prey.

In this way, mimicry works as a defense mechanism, allowing these creatures to survive and prosper. Nature’s game of deception is intriguing, isn’t it?

What Are the Main Threats to Common Tiger Butterfly Populations?

Common Tiger Butterflies face a series of threats that jeopardize their survival. Habitat loss is arguably the most pressing issue for these beings.

They rely heavily on specific habitats, notably those rich in their host plants such as Milkweed and Oleander.

  • Urbanization and agricultural expansion are the leading drivers of habitat loss for these butterflies. Unfortunately, these habitats are destroyed to make way for housing, industries and farming. The loss of their natural habitat leads to a decrease in the population of these butterflies.

Also, they face a threat from climate change. Rising temperatures reshape the ecosystems in which these butterflies live.

Changes in heat and moisture conditions can diminish their food sources and potentially shift or shrink their geographical range.

  • Furthermore, pesticides used in agricultural fields pose a significant threat. These toxic substances can kill these butterflies directly or contaminate their food sources leading to death.

Lastly, the illegal pet trade is a looming menace. Despite laws and regulations, some people continue illegally capturing these creatures for their exotic appeal, further reducing their population.

In summary, the Common Tiger Butterfly faces an array of threats, many of which are anthropogenic.

Providing a safe habitat, curbing illegal trading, and minimizing pesticide use are keys to the survival of this spectacular creature.


To wrap up, the Common Tiger Butterfly is a wonder of nature with its charming physical characteristics, fascinating life cycle, unique mimicry behaviors and distinct mating rituals.

Knowing about their diet and few threats to their population can aid in their preservation efforts greatly.

What are your thoughts on the Common Tiger Butterfly? Do leave a comment!

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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