This is the photo of a common birdwing, it
closely resembles the golden birdwing which resides in Northern Thailand.
No, it is not a sea slug; it is the massive caterpillar
of the golden birdwing butterfly (Troides aeacus, Papilionidae). In a
previous blog I wrote that this huge butterfly (14 cm) does not like to lay
its eggs on exotic Aristolochia. Well, the baby below is actually eating
South American Aristolochia ringens (Aristolochiaceae) here at Dokmai
Garden. The golden birdwing is a majestic butterfly and a pride of any
healthy Thai garden, so be careful to teach your staff that this ‘worm’ will
in fact become a lovely butterfly, and that fire, herbicides and pesticides
will kill it.
Yesterday was the day of giants. Two Australian and two Burmese visitors
were lucky to see this larva, and also the black eagle which I have not seen
in months. It probably moved uphill when it got too dry in the valley. Right
now there is a lot of bird and butterfly activity, and hopefully we may get
another flush of mushrooms.
Another smaller larva often seen on Aristolochia is the ‘common rose’:
Pachliopta aristolochiae. Since the butterfly rarely sits still it is
difficult for me to take good photos with my ancient camera.