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Thousand Nectar Plants Attract a Large Number of Euploea midamus

By Chen Li-Yu / Staff reporter / County Government

After years of maintenance and cultivation by the Forestry Research Center, the Kinmen Botanical Garden has a good natural environment and ecology. It boasts the richest biodiversity in Kinmen, and is also the habitat for Euploea midamus, a species endemic to Kinmen. In 2017, the Forestry Research Center commissioned a professional unit to conduct surveys on plants and insects in the garden, as well as surveys on existing butterfly food and nectar plants. At the beginning of this year, nine species of nectar plants were grown, such as Kusukusu Eupatorium, with a total of nearly 1,000 in number, which successfully attracted a large number of delicate purple visitors and brought in people to appreciate butterflies. The Forestry Research Center cautions visitors against picking flowers or trees at will, or catching insects and butterflies, so that Euploea midamu can continue to fly about in the botanical garden.

In recent years, the Kinmen Botanical Garden not only has a good ecological environment and rich biodiversity under the careful management by the Forestry Research Center, but it also has nearly 500 species of animals living in it, as indicated by a survey, including Chilasa clytia, Platycorynus parryi, Euploea midamus, and other endemic species. In order to create a pleasant habitat for these guests, in 2017, the agency commissioned a professional team to carry out the “Kinmen Botanical Garden Butterfly Food and Nectar Plants Cultivation Project” to investigate the plants and insects as well as existing butterfly food and nectar plants in the park, to understand the scope of additional planting. Early this year, nine varieties, nearly 1000 in number, of nectar plants were grown in the garden, such as Kusukusu Eupatorium, Stachytarpheta jemaciensis, Formosan Michelia, Clausena lunulata Hay., and Haematoxylum campechianum. During the full blossom season, they attracted a large number of Euploea midamus dancing in the air.

The agency indicated that due to its alkaloid-containing nectar, Kusukusu Eupatorium, an important butterfly-attractive plant in butterfly gardens and ecological farms, always attracts large numbers of spotted butterflies during its florescence. This time, Kusukusu Eupatorium, a prime nectar plant, played a leading role in bringing a large number of Euploea midamus to the Kinmen Botanical Garden.

The agency also explained that alkaloids are secondary metabolites of plants and one of the main chemical defense mechanisms, which can resist the invasion of herbivores and insects. Purple-spotted butterflies are particularly fond of consuming the nectar of Kusukusu Eupatorium since it contains an important substance that male butterflies use to synthesize danaidone, a sex pheromone that attracts female butterflies to mate.

As a large number of Euploea midamus showed up in the garden, tourists flocked to admire the butterflies or capture these beautiful guests with cameras. However, some visitors recently have been spotted catching butterflies. Therefore, the agency calls on them to observe and appreciate the beautiful scenery only through their eyes or by cameras, rather than picking flowers or trees or catching insects and butterflies at will on the premises, so that Euploea midamus can continue to flutter about elegantly.

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