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Maolin National Scenic AreaExplore MaolinScenic SpotsMaolin DistrictPurple Butterfly Valley
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Purple Butterfly Valley

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Maolin District

Partly cloudy(Maolin District)

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    Purple Butterfly Valley

Source: Written by Mr. Jhan Jia-Long

Every winter, it is estimated that at least a million Euploeini butterflies glide on their purple wings to the holy mountain of Rukai and Paiwan Tribes in southern Taiwan and take shelter in warm valleys at the foot of Dawu Mountain. About six hundred thousand butterflies overwinter in "Purple Butterfly Valley", which is one of only two mass overwintering sites known in the world, along with the Monarch butterfly's overwintering site in Mexico. Purple Butterfly Valleys only exists in the medium and low altitude regions of Kaohsiung City, Pingtung County, Taitung County, and in the traditional homelands of the Paiwan and Rukai Tribes. At present there are about twenty butterfly gathering places known in Taiwan, and the Maolin area of Kaohsiung City alone is home to at least seven.

Purple Butterfly Valley is not a specific geographical name, but rather a term used by butterfly researchers to represent the biological phenomenon of Euploeini butterflies overwintering in groups. Every winter, at least four species of purple crow butterfly, or Taiwanese purple-spotted butterfly, gather, including Euploea tulliolus koxinga Fruhstorfer, Euploea mulciber barsine Fruhstorfer, Euploea Eunice hobsoni, and Euploea Sylvester swinhoei. Researchers also find examples of at least six other species of butterfly in this area, including Parantica sita niphonica Moore, Salatura genutia, genutia Cramer, and Idea leuconoe, which are usually only found further south at Hengchun.

The Euploeini butterflies' glistening blue and purple wings seem to change its hue in sunlight, thus it is often called "Illusory Light" by Japanese insect researchers. The Euploeini are "milkweed" butterflies and their grubs feed upon the poisonous leaves of milkweed plants. The toxins are stored in the adult butterfly's body, making them distasteful to most predators. It is believed that the adult's vivid coloration is actually a biological defense mechanism, warning predators who preyed on them before not to try again.

Last Update:2019-01-11

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