July 16, 2020

Thailand butterfly guide

Coming to Thailand and plan to sit still for five minutes? You're in for a treat! Thailand's butterflies are total showstoppers.

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Butterflies in Thailand

The butterflies we’ve seen on Koh Samui aren’t just more colourful than those we’re used to at home, they’re bigger, too. You’ll definitely spot them while enjoying a slow breakfast outside, or when stopping to enjoy Thailand’s tropical flowers.

If you like seated, gin-and-tonic-assisted scientific observation (we do!) – Thailand butterflies will prove a real surprise.

Thailand butterflies

Thailand has at least 1,100 types of butterfly, with experts stating a more exact 1,287. For more photos of what you might get to see, all over Thailand, (see their astonishing colour and variety here and here).

Where to see butterflies in Thailand?

1. Butterfly garden, Koh Samui:

There is a butterfly garden on Koh Samui, however, it’s a long way from the island’s main beaches and, perhaps as it’s quite a niche interest, doesn’t enjoy much TLC. Worthwhile if you’ve got a serious thing for butterflies and want to see as many as possible in a short time.

2. Sit somewhere pretty:

As more convenient (and free) alternative, sit still near a flower-filled garden just about anywhere in Thailand and we guarantee you’ll get your money’s worth (see some of our favourite Koh Samui gardens to explore).

If you're spending any time in gardens or generally outside in Thailand, don't forget your mosquito repellent. Our absolute favourite is Incognito Natural Anti-Mozzie Spray (here's why).

Butterflies on Koh Samui

Samui’s resident butterfly expert, Les Day, has personally recorded 321 butterfly species – an extremely high number for an island of this size. Two of these are particularly beautiful – ‘Adamsons Rose’ and ‘Painted Jezebel’.Les maintains a great website detailing his study, with a vast photo gallery of Thailand’s butterflies. Considerable space is also given to dragonflies, as well as beetles, moths, grasshoppers and more.

Thailand butterfly guide

A Naturalist's Guide to the Butterflies of [Thailand] – It's portable, and written in layman's terms (not Latin). The book quickly satisfies any non-biologist's eco-curiosity and easily answers "what did I just see?"

Three crazy butterfly facts

We started looking into Thailand’s butterflies “because they’re pretty”. Sitting down to write this, our knowledge of these beauties didn’t span much beyond “they’re grown-up caterpillars”. How’s your butterfly pub quiz knowledge? Allow us... we Googled ahead.

The fastest butterflies ... can fly at 37 miles per hour

“Butterflies can live in the adult stage from anywhere between a week and a year, depending on the species” (source).

“The fastest butterflies are the skippers, which can fly at 37 miles per hour, but most butterflies travel at 5 to 12 miles per hour” (source).

“Their body temperature needs to be above 86 degrees to fly” – perfect for Koh Samui's climate (source).

Thailand butterflies for children

If you’re coming to Thailand with children, you’ve got a free science lesson ready and waiting. Colouring is an easy gateway for a sneaky science lesson (and a great activity for a long plane ride).

For other winged creatures, take a look at our running list of the Thai birds we've seen (they've got some great names).Happy nature-hunting!