Plain Tiger
Danaus chrysippus, Linnaeus

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Male Plain Tiger feeding on exudates of developing pods of Crotalaria pallida
Male Plain Tiger

Wingspan 60-80 mm. The sexes are similar. The male can be identified by the scent patch on the second vein of the hind wing. On the upper side, it appears as a large black patch towards the center of the wing, and on the underside, as a white centered black patch. 

There are three different forms of the Plain Tiger, of which the commonest is shown here. The other two forms are rare. Form dorippus lacks the white apical spots on the forewing. In form alcippoides, the upper side of the hind wing is suffused with a large white area. The latter form is exceptionally rare in Sri Lanka, and has been recorded on only a few occasions.

Similar species
Female Danaid Eggfly - The wing margins are serrated and the upper side of the hind wing carries a single black spot. A remarkably good mimic of the Plain Tiger and has forms that correspond to form Dorippus and Alcippoides, which are just as rare.

Status, distribution and habitat
A common butterfly of the arid, dry and intermediate zones, less commonly encountered in the wet zone. Its habitats include fallow land, coastal dunes, scrub jungle, neglected coconut lands and farmsteads. In fact, anywhere in which its principal larval food plant, Calotropis gigantea, grows. It is seen all year round but never in large numbers.

Male Plain Tiger feeding on dead Heliotropium

It has a characteristic slow meandering flight and moves forward with a few wing beats followed by a spell of gliding. Although it flies at all heights, it is commonly encountered within a few feet above ground. Unlike the other Danaids in the island which fly in dappled shade, the Plain Tiger is an insect of the blazing sun and prefers to stay around large open fields, even  during the hottest time of the day when others have retired to the shady thickets. It visits flowers regularly for nectar. The male is not particularly fond of visiting mud puddles or wet soil. As evening approaches, it often congregates with other Danaids to roost under the canopy of large trees.

This is an unpalatable poisonous species, avoided both by birds and lizards. The chemical substances that deter the predators are mostly assimilated by the larva and then passed on to the adult through the pupa. 
More information on Danaids

Early stages

Ova of Plain Tiger

The larvae feed on Calotropis gigantea, a plant with a milky sap poisonous to both man and animals. For egg laying, the females often select the lowest leaves of young plants that are usually a foot or two tall. Like most other Danaids, the female takes care when she lays her eggs. It checks out the surface of the intended location with the tip of her abdomen before placing her egg. 

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