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Let’s Go See the Tree Nymph Butterflies, One of the Largest Butterflies in Japan!
post : 2019.10.03 05:00
1. What is the Tree Nymph Butterfly?
2. Surprising Look of the Pupas!?
3. Where to See the Tree Nymph Butterflies on Okinawa
When out on an island stroll on Okinawa, sometimes, something flutters as it floats across my path.
I wonder, what was that?
I turned around and found a large butterfly with a splashy pattern on its wings, gracefully suckling nectar from a flower.
That’s right, it was the Ogomadala, or tree nymph butterfly in English, one of the largest butterflies found in Japan. Its black and white patterns on the wings are very unique, and when extended, it can measure up to 13 centimeters across the wings. When it flies, flutters a little slowly, like a newspaper floating in the wind. That’s why its nickname is Shinbun-Cho, literally meaning “newspaper butterfly”.
These butterflies can be found across Southeast Asia, and in Japan, they’re found on Kikaijima Island which is situated east of Amami Oshima, and also in the Nansei Islands, or the string of islands of the Ryukyu Archipelago that stretch from Yoron Island and southward.
The larvae or the caterpillar stage of the tree nymph butterflies have vivid colors and they look to be straight out of a picture book by Eric Carle. At first, it looks like it has hairs on the surface, but they’re actually quite smooth. They feed on Horai-Kagami leaves, a plant from the oleander family. The horai-kagami have a naturally occurring poison and the tree nymph caterpillars eat the leaves and store the poison in their bodies to protect themselves against being eaten by predators.
Once the tree nymph caterpillar eats all the horai-kagami leaves it can, it eventually slows down, and stops moving. It prepares to enter its pupa or chrysalis stage.
After some time, you’ll notice the bright, shining pupas hanging from branches here and there. The bright gold color of the pupas is a warning to the other living things that it isn’t safe to eat, and this is how the tree nymph pupas protect themselves while rapidly changing form inside. Quietly, it waits for the time to emerge as a beautiful and large butterfly.
After about a month in the chrysalis stage, the tree nymph has completed its metamorphosis and emerges to show off its elegant wings. The females are bigger in size, and they lay about 100 to 180 eggs at one time. In the harsh environment of nature, though, only about 2% of the eggs make it to the caterpillar stage.
To “create a favorable environment for the tree nymph butterflies to grow,” more and more public facilities and private homes are planting horai-kagami trees in their gardens. In some tourist facilities, they are cultivating the horai-kagami plants and raising tree nymph butterflies for people to enjoy the beautiful creatures.
At the banana farm in Murasaki Mura in Yomitan Village, there’s an area where visitors can get up close with the many tree nymph butterflies that live there.
You’ll be intrigued when you come across the tree nymph butterfly during your visit on the islands. To get a closer look at them, take a trip out to one of the facilities and enjoy your time with these fascinating butterflies.
[Places to See the Tree Nymph Butterfly on Okinawa]
Address: 1020-1 Takashiho, Yomitan Village, Nakagami, Okinawa
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00
Open Year Round
OKINAWA Fruits Land
Address: 1220-71 Biimata, Nago City, Okinawa
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00
Open Year Round
Butterfly Garden at Manko Park
Address: 3-23 Kohagura, Naha City, Okinawa, Chocho (Butterfly) Garden
Hours: Weekdays from 9:00 to 17:00, Weekends & Holidays from 9:00 to 18:00
Okinawa CLIP photo writers, monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kawano)