Green Dragontail Butterfly- A species of a swallowtail butterfly


Do you have a garden in the front or back yard of your house? Then you must be familiar with beautiful animals that like to perch on flower plants called butterflies. Butterflies are usually active during the day and rest or perch by spreading their wings. Butterfly wings typically have a beautiful, brilliant color. There are about 600 species of butterflies have recorded on the islands of Java and Bali. So this time, we will discuss one of its species, namely the green dragontail butterfly. The green dragontail butterfly with the Latin name Lamproptera meges is a species of swallowtail butterfly that belongs to the family Papilionidae, found in several parts of South and Southeast Asia.

Close wing position of Dragontail
Close wing position of Dragontail Butterfly- Source Wikimedia Commons


A small green dragontail butterfly has a wingspan of 40 to 55 millimeters (1.6 to 2.2 inches) with a tail length of 25 to 40 millimeters (0.98 to 1.57 inches). These butterflies generally have black and white patterns scattered all over their bodies. As their wings are expanded, their bodies are black, with a bright turquoise or light green band running roughly parallel to its abdomen on their upper hind wings (instead of White Dragon Tails, which have white wings), prominent especially during their flight. When the wings are closed, the color remains the same, black because of the transparent window.

The transparent, glassy triangles on each of these forewings are known as hyaline – a transparent, colorless feature. The Green Dragontail’s wings extend to form a long black tail, tipped white. Their long tails serve as rudders in flight when they are flying, moving back and forth at high speed like a dragonfly.


Female butterflies have a dull appearance, with an indentation located on the ventral plate just above their abdomen’s tip to aid copulation. On the other hand, male butterflies do not have a gender mark which they can identify more clearly.
The green dragontail butterfly caterpillar is dark green in appearance with spread black spots throughout its body. The pupa of the butterfly is attached to the host plant’s leaf by the anchorage point called cremaster.

Green Dragontail butterflies reproduce by laying eggs just like butterflies in general. The life cycle of green dragontail butterflies consists of 4 phases: egg, larva, cocoon/pupa to butterfly. The eggs of green dragontail butterflies are smooth, nearly transparent spherical eggs are green in color, similar to that of other swallowtail butterflies. The next stage is the larval stage, a time for increasing the body size. The larva, also known as a caterpillar, spends its time on host plants eating and growing. The Green dragontail butterfly caterpillar has a dark green body spotted in black.

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Green dragontail butterflies host plant

Green dragontail butterflies caterpillars feed on their certain host plants until their next stage of the life cycle. Which may be a single species to many different species such as :

  1. Illigera burmanica King of the Hernandiaceae family ( in India)
  2. Zanthoxylum genus (in the Philippines)
  3. Uvaria rufa leaves (in Indonesia).
  4. Uvaria rufa leaves generally live on the banks of rivers. In Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, these plants often found on the banks of the Pattunuang River. Uvaria rufa has been tried to be planted in Butterfly Sanctuary but has not produced results. Until now, there is still no effective way founded to cultivate this single leafy plant.

Green dragontail butterflies locations

The green dragontail butterfly is present in some parts of South and Southeast Asia. In South Asia, butterflies exist in some parts of the Indian peninsular such as northeastern India, in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland. Apart from South Asia, this green dragontail butterfly is also found in Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, South China (including Hainan and Zhangjiajie from Hunan Province), Cambodia, East Malaysia and, the Indonesian Archipelago, Philippines, and Brunei. Indonesian Islands of Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Nias, Bangka, and Java can also meet th Green Dragontail butterflies.

Green Dragontail Butterfly
Green Dragontail Butterfly- Source Wikimedia Commons

There are ten identified subspecies of green dragontail butterflies based on their locations.

  1. L. m. meges Sumatra, Java, Borneo
  2. L. m. ennius northern Sulawesi, central Sulawesi
  3. L. m. akirai southern Sulawesi
  4. L. m. virescens Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Hainan
  5. L. m. annamiticus eastern Thailand, southern Vietnam
  6. L. m. pallidus northern Vietnam
  7. L. m. niasicus Nias
  8. L. m. decius the Philippines
  9. L. m. pessimus Philippines (Palawan, Balabac, Dumaran)
  10. L. m. ampli Yunnan, Burma
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Green dragontail butterfly habits

Among India’s smallest swallowtail butterflies, the green dragontail butterfly is usually found singly along with open, sunlit plots, tropical and subtropical rainforests, mostly near streams and waterfalls, as well as on leaves found near shrubs. It can also see in small groups, usually in pairs or threes. They typically fly at an altitude range of 100 to 1,520 meters (330 to 4,990 feet) from April to October. They have a unique flight style (whirring) because their wings are relatively small in comparison to their body size. This means that they have to flap their wings very quickly like dragonflies and use their tails as a rudder.

The male dragontail sucks up a lot of mineral dissolved water into the body. Then minerals are absorbed by the body and water is excreted from the anus. While feeding on flowers and minerals, their wings move rapidly but stop for some time. Sometimes they rest on the leaves of a bush with their wings spread out and motionless. Although green dragon tails are not considered threatened in most of their native areas, they are considered vulnerable and need protection in Peninsular Malaysia.

Green dragontail butterfly Status

In studies of swallow flocks in the Rani-Garbhanga Wildlife Reserve in Assam in 2003 and 2004, dragontail butterflies were found to have the lowest mean abundance; green dragontail and white dragontail butterflies were found in crevices (open plots) as well as in the closed forest. A previous 2004 report stated that the status of green dragontail in the Garbhanga Forest Reserve was “extremely rare”; then, a total of 108 butterflies from the genus Lamproptera have seen during the years of 2003 and 2004 surveys, But, details by species were not published. However, the Green dragontail butterfly is not yet identified as to be threatened in most rest areas.


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