Precious butterfly teinopalpus aureus in Vietnam

In the insecta, butterfly is the most well-known group due to their beautiful color, form and friendliness to the human. Many precious, rare and beautiful butterfly species which have small areas of distritbution are often hunted for commercial purposes, of which, Papilionidae. According to IUCN, nearly 14% of total species of this family (78 species) is being threatened or the species community is in severely decline. Among 46 species that need to be protected (listed in appendix I and II of CITES), Vietnam has 4 species, namely Teinopalpus aureus, Teinopalpus imperialis, Troides helena and Troides aeacus. Of them, Teinpalpus aureus is being hunted most urgently because its commercial value is higher than the others.

In the world, Teinpalpus aureus distributes narrowly, they only fly in natural forests on high mountains in Southern China (including Hainan island) and Central Laos. In Vietnam this species has scattered distribution from the North (Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc) to the South Central Coast (Dak Nong). The new places witnessing the existence of this species are Pu Mat (Nghe An), Dak Nong and Dak Lak.


Teinopalpus aureus aureus in Tam Dao (left) và T. a. eminens in Lam Dong (right)

Individuals of Teinopalpus aureus aureus species and eggs in raising condition


Vietnam has two supplementary species known as Teinopalpus aureus aureus distributing from Vinh Phuc to Ha Tinh and Teinopalpus aureus eminens distributing in the South Central Coast (Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, Dak Nong, Dak Lak). These two species are very similar to each other, the only difference is found in the wing square of the back wing (see photo). Specificially, the Northern species’ wing square is larger than that of the South Central Coast one. For dimorphous species, male and female individuals are different from each other. The female has greater wing span dimension than the male, and its tails are longer and clearer.

They have different activity habits in comparison with other species belonging to Papilionidae family. They are seen on the mountain peaks in the early morning on sunny days (from 6 am to 8 am), and later on cloudy days. When the clouds appear, they stop flying, when the sun rises they fly to upper and very quickly. The male individuals fly first, waiting for the females, they often fly opposite to the wind orientation. This is easy to understand because they will lose their balance if they fly along with the wind orientation.


Seawater creatures (three Tam Dao mountain peaks) of butterfly Teinpalpus aureus and Michelia foveolata of Magnoliaceae family in Tam Dao


Butterfly have two generations within the year, the first is from nearly the end of March to the middle of May and the second is from nearly the end of July to the start of September. In the Central, the butterflies appear sooner, from the start of March to the end of April, the data has not been recorded in July and August because exploration was made impossible in the autumn. The exploration results in species obtained show that the species community is rare, especially the supplementary species distributing in the Central region of Vietnam.

Teinpalpus aureu can be regarded as the rarest, most precious and valuable species in Vietnam. This species has been listed as being threatened, because of its small community, a separated habitat, exploration and deforestation (especially in Dak Nong and Dak Lak). In addition, excessive hunting can make this danger more serious.


Translated by Hoang Lien
Link to Vietnamese version



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