和訳は英文の下にございます。/ Japanese translation with ruby on kanji is below the English text.

Migrating Butterflies


1. A butterfly with writings
2. The migrating butterfly
3. Marking survey of the Chestnut Tiger
4. The migration of the Chestnut Tiger
5. The world's longest-distance migrator butterfly
6. The Monarch Butterfly
7. The wisdom of the migrating butterflies
migrating butterflies with information on wings
A chestnut tiger with hand-written information on its wing / 手書きの情報を羽につけたアサギマダラ

1. A butterfly with writings

Do you like butterflies?

We had an opportunity to learn about some butterflies this fall, and we became very interested.

The beginning was a photo from Japan on Facebook.

It focused on an ethereal pale blue butterfly, which was taken in Kyoto Botanical Gardens.

However, it seemed that someone had caught it and written something on its wings!

an image of an migrating butterfly
A Chestnut Tiger / アサギマダラ

Why did they do that? If you would write on the wings, wouldn’t it hurt it?

2. The migrating butterfly

Answering my question, the lady who posted the photo said these are migrating butterflies.

“They fly from the Tohoku or Kanto region all the way to Okinawa and Taiwan!

The map of Asia
Find the countries where you may see the Chestnut Tiger! Map of Asia, CIA, 2013

“I hear that various organizations are conducting marking surveys to find about their routes.”

This butterfly is called “Asaghi-Madara” in Japanese. It is about four inches wide with its wings spread out. “Asaghi” means very pale blue with a hint of green, and “Madara” means spotted or speckled.

In English they are called the Chestnut Tiger, and their scientific name is Parantica sita. They are found widely in Asia from around Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Southeast Asia, southern China, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, to the Japanese Archipelago.

In Japan, people didn’t know the Chestnut Tiger migrates until recently.

3. Marking research of the Chestnut Tiger

“Recently” or in the beginning of the 1980’s, some people in Japan thought the Chestnut Tiger might be migrating. They marked them on Tanegashima Island, Kagoshima-ken, and let them free in 1981. Later that year, one was caught in Fukushima-ken and another in Mie-ken. The news of this success made the marking survey of the Chestnut Tiger in Japan very popular.

With migrating birds, you do “banding” to conduct a survey. With the Chestnut Tiger butterflies, the Japanese catch one, mark the place, date, marker’s name, and the serial number of the marking with a pen. Since the Chestnut Tiger doesn’t have scale powder, permanent ink stays on the wings. It is said that their flight and mating are not affected adversely by this marking.

Then they release it, and if someone catches it somewhere else on a later date, they can tell how many days it took that butterfly to cover what distance, and in which direction it travelled. Also, they can take a photograph and see how it is worn out after the travel, and report it to their club, researchers, a natural museum or a botanical garden.

Many people and children have participated, and since the 2000’s, tens of thousands of Chestnut Tigers have been marked each year.

However, we can’t tell a simple story about their migration. The re-catching rate is about 1%, and the distance and direction are so varied. Also the organizations and researchers conducting the surveys are only loosely connected, and it seems that there is no comprehensive report based on all the surveys.

Still, we learned some very interesting stories and we would like to share them with you.

. The migration of the Chestnut Tiger

The map of Japan
Find the place names in this map!

The Chestnut Tiger is originally a tropical butterfly and hates cold weather, but they are also very weak in extreme heat.

Therefore, in spring and summer, the Chestnut Tiger in Japan travels to places of an elevation of 1,000 meters or higher, or in the direction of northeast.

In summer and fall, they begin to travel south, mate and lay eggs, and then end their lives.

When the new generation reaches adulthood, they travel further south. They reach their destination and lay eggs. When they hatch, they overwinter in the form of larvae. When spring comes, they METAMORPHOSE into butterflies and set out on their journey north again.

In other words, basically, one generation spends its life in a one-directional travelling.

Their places to overwinter are scattered wildly; areas on the Pacific Ocean in Kanto and westward regions in Honshu, Seto Inland area, Kyushu, the Nansei Islands IN Okinawa and Taiwan, among others.

Looking at the map, we wonder. They may be able to ride on an air current, but can they rest on the water? Once offshore, they don’t eat anything? It must be particularly hard to travel in the season of typhoons.

There are many mysteries about the Chestnut Tiger; extraordinary vitality and will power, complicated behaviors, ability to know the oncoming inclement weather from afar and to avoid it, and why they migrate thus. However, their lives spent in great adventures have made a lot of fans among the Japanese.

5. The world’s longest-distance migrator butterfly

When I, as a new fan, was reading about the Chestnut Tiger, a sentence caught my attention:

“The Chestnut Tiger has the record of the second longest flight (2, 246 km) among the world’s butterflies.”

An American migrating butterfly
When I took this, I never imagined that this dainty thing was migrating to Mexico!

I hardly knew about butterflies, so I didn’t know their travelling distance was so unusual. Who migrates the longest distance?

It was “Ookaba-Madara” in North America; they fly about 5,000 km.

I had never heard about “Ookaba Madara”. In the dictionary, it was “Monarch Butterfly”.

Their photographs surprised me.

In September, I took some photos of those butterflies while taking a walk in Charleston without knowing their name.

6. The Monarch Butterfly

An image of the Monarch Butterbly
It was a group of four or five Monarchs dropping by at Charleston, SC

Many Monarch Butterflies migrate by travelling north to the US or Canada in the spring, and travelling to the mountains in southern Mexico in the fall.

It means maybe the Monarchs I saw were in transit to Texas and then the Oyamel Mountains in Mexico!

In the US, the study of the Monarch’s migration began in the 1950’s. It was thirty years before the Japanese noticed the migration of the Chestnut Tiger, so it seems that they learned a lot from American studies on their migrating butterfly. In the marking of the Monarchs, though, Americans do not write on but affix a tiny sticker on a wing.

If you would like to know a little more about the Monarch, below is a very interesting and informative link: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/migration/index.shtml

Americans watch the Monarchs very carefully. Some consider the sharp decline in their number in the last forty years as a warning to the changes of their ecosystem.

On the other hand, the study of the Chestnut Tiger in Japan is still in the stage of finding their routes in migration. Still, some already suspect such environmental issues as divisions of forests for development and road construction, the rise in temperature, the decrease of plants they feed on caused by invading species, are affecting their number and behavior.

7. The wisdom of the migrating butterflies

An image of two migrating butterflies in Kyoto
Ms. Masuda receives visits of the Chestnut Tiger in her garden with boneset

The lady who showed us the Chestnut Tiger photos said that they actually visited the garden of her home.

We, as we are living in the US, would like the Monarch Butterfly to drop in at our garden. We are planning to plant milkweed and other plants for them.

Larvae of both Monarchs and Chestnut Tigers eat the leaves of plants of the family Apocynaceae. They are poisonous, and the larvae absorb the poison. Thus, when another insect or a bird eats them, it may find they taste awful and may not eat the others.

The larvae can’t fight for themselves, but they may be able to let other and future larvae survive by being eaten. It’s a defense system of the species.

Their risky, long journey is also wisdom to give birth to the next generation where it’s easier to live.

All creatures may be similarly doing something for their future generations.

What can humans do to let our future generations live more easily and happily?  

[End of the English post]




1. みのあるちょう
2. わたりをするちょう
3. アサギマダラのマーキング調ちょう
4. アサギマダラの季節移動
5. かい一番いちばんちょうきょわたちょう
6. オオカバマダラ
7. わたりをするちょう
Boneset attracts the Chestnut Tiger as well as many other pollinators








なぜそんなことを? ……いたりしたら、はねきずつけてしまうのでは?

2. わたりをするちょう




このちょうほんではアサギマダラ (あさまだら)。はねひろげると10じゅっセンチほどになります。まえの「あさぎ」はうしみどりいろがかった青色あおいろ、「まだら」はいくつかのいろところどころじっていることです。

えいではチェスナット・タイガー、学名がくめいParanticaパランティカ sitaシタといい、アジアではアフガニスタンあたりからインドほく、ネパール、ブータン、東南とうなんアジア、ちゅう国南ごくなん台湾たいわんちょう鮮半島せんはんとう本列島ほんれっとうまで、ひろられます。[CIAシーアイエーのアジアをおりしましたので、英文えいぶんをごさんしょうください]


3. アサギマダラのマーキング調ちょう


わたどり調ちょうでは、「バンディング (あしをつけること)」をします。アサギマダラでは、ちょうつかまえて、しょにち獲者かくしゃ年何頭としなんとうめのちょうか、などをせいペンではねちょくせつにゅうします。アサギマダラは鱗粉りんぷんがないので、せいインクがります。なお、このようなマーキングは、こうこうしょうきたさないそうです。











えっとうは、関東かんとう西せい太平洋岸たいへいようがん内海ないかいほうきゅうしゅう沖縄おきなわ南西諸島なんせいしょとう台湾たいわんそのさまざまで、ると、になります。りゅうるとしても、なみうえやすめるのでしょうか? おきたらべるものもないのでは? 台風たいふうせつたびをするのはさぞかし大変たいへんでしょう![英文えいぶんをごさんしょうください]


5. かい一番いちばんちょうきょわたちょう


「アサギマダラはかいばんなが行距こうきょ (2,246にせんにひゃくよんじゅうろっキロ) が確認かくにんされた」


それは、北米ほくべいの「オオカバマダラ (大蒲おおかばまだら?)」、きょやく5,000ごせんキロだそうです。

いたことがなかったので、しょ調しらべるとえいで Monarch Butterfly (モナーク・バタフライ)でした。



6. オオカバマダラ






7. わたりをするちょう


うちは米国べいこくなので、オオカバマダラにぜひってほしい。オオカバマダラのようちゅうべるしょくぶつトウワタ (唐綿とうわた) をえようとおもっています。








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