Malasian Lacewing (Cethosia cyane)
Photo copyright 2010 James Laurie.
The Lacewings, Cethosia spp. are the Old World representatives of the longwing butterflies and like those neotropical insects feed on plants in the Passifloraceae. They are therefore inedible to vertebrate predators. We often fly two species of these intricately designed butterflies, the Malay Lacewing (Cethosia cyane) and the Common Lacewing (C. biblis). There can be some differences in coloration between
the sexes but over all they converge on a similar pattern to warn predators of their unpalatability. These slow fliers make no effort to hide and will ‘play dead’ if roughly handled. This is a behavioral response to allow a predator to taste them during the learning process. Their bodies are tougher than palatable species and individuals can survive these attacks.