Butterflies of Korea

With the arrival of summer, the parks and the woods in Korea become decorated in bright colours as butterflies awake from their cocoons and spread their newly-found wings into the air. In a country like Korea where the four seasons are very distinct, the summer is when the butterflies and other insects are most active. Unlike in Canada, the summer in Korea is almost tropical-like, very hot and humid, which serves as ideal environment for butterflies to foster.

1)      Lycaeides argyronomon (부전나비)

Imaged twice a year between May and October, the lycaeides argyronomon can be found in open fields all over the Korean peninsula. The male has blue-violet wings with black lines that go around the edge, while the female has dark brown wings with small arch-shaped orange pigments that line the edge.

부전나비Lycaeides argyronomon (부전나비)

2)      Papilio xuthus (호랑나비)

Three times between April and October, the papilio xuthus develops into its adult form. Although those imaged in the spring are a bit smaller than those imaged in the summer, the former’s colours and shape are more pronounced. The papilio xuthus can often be found in the plains or in the hills, seeping the juice from flowers like the thistles, the garden zinnia, and the lily, and from flowers of trees like the Chinese pepper tree and the Harlequin Glory-Bower tree. In addition to the Korean peninsula, its habitat extends into east and southeast Asia, including Japan, China, and Burma.


Papilio xuthus (호랑나비)


Atrophanerra alcinous(사향제비나비)

3)      Atrophanerra alcinous(사향제비나비)

The male atrophanerra alcinous is special because it gives off the scent of a musk deer. The surface of its wings is dark and has a slight lustre, and there is scarlet hair on its chest and stomach. The female has brown wings, but unlike the male, it lacks lustre. The atrophanerra alcinouses are found mainly in the plains or at the foot of a mountain, feeding on the juice of the flowers of the sorbaria sorbifolia tree, the harlequin glory-bower tree, and the amur maple tree. Its habitat extends into Japan, China, and Taiwan.

4)      Melanargia epimede (조흰뱀눈나비)

The first letter of this butterfly’s Korean name– “조” – has been adopted from the name of entomologist 조복성 (1905-71), the founding father of entomological studies in modern Korea. The white rectangular shapes on its wings are its distinctive character. The melanargia epimede lives in the grass fields, the forest edges, or in the open fields at top of the mountains. It flies slow at low height. It can be found all over the Korean peninsula and as well as in most parts of China.


Melanargia epimede (조흰뱀눈나비)

5)      Parantica sita (왕나비)

The parantica sita images twice a year from May to September. This butterfly is distinct because it flies along a smooth trajectory like a bird at low speed. Unlike the female, the male has black spots on its back wing. Although the parantica sitas are mostly found in the South, due to climate change, they have been sited spending their summers much further up in the north, near Seoraksan mountain or even near Pyongyang. Its habitat extends into Japan, Taiwan, China and into the western Himalayas.


Parantica sita (왕나비)

6)      Araschnia levana (북방거꾸로여덟팔나비)


Araschnia levana (북방거꾸로여덟팔나비)

Given that the white marks on its wings are shaped like an upside down 八 , number 8 in traditional Chinese character, the araschnia levana butterly has been assigned a Korean name that literally means “upside down eight.” It images twice a year between May to August, and it usually dwells near streams and valleys. It can be found mostly in the southern portion of the Korean peninsula, but its habitat extends well into Japan, Siberia, and even Europe.

Categories: 2014

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