Paper Kite Butterfly
Scientific name: Idea leuconoe
This large, striking, black-and-white butterfly flits and floats in the air, like a piece of paper drifting in the wind. Its huge 9 to 10cm wingspan is accentuated by spectacular pattern. It is also known as the Rice Paper butterfly and Large Tree Nymph.
This GORGEOUS tropical butterfly has managed to spread its wings all over the world, simply by being beautiful. You may not have seen it in the wild (I haven’t yet!), but chances are if you have been to a butterfly house, then you have witnessed its loveliness. As you can see, it is attracted to red flowers, so wear a red top or hat if you want one to land on you!
It is a popular butterfly to have in captivity at Butterfly houses because of its size and slower flying pattern. I have photographed them in butterfly houses in Germany, all across the USA, in Australia, Thailand and South Africa. I created these images at ‘That Butterfly Place’ in Branson, Missouri.
In the wild it is found from India through Malaysia and SE Asia. It is bred commercially in the Phillipines and Malaysia and each chrysalis carefully packed and sent to new butterfly houses around the world.
The chrysalis is just as beautiful as the butterfly in my opinion. They are yellow with metallic gold and black markings as in the above images. You can see the empty chrysalis with the emerged adult butterflies stretching their newly freed wings.
As caterpillars they eat plants with bitter-tasting alkaloids, which in turn give them a bitter taste and protect them from predation even as butterflies. I look forward to photographing the caterpillars one day…