Every years millions of purple crow butterflies migrate from the north in the fall, and back in the spring. It’s time again for the spring migration and this weekend to early next week looks to be the best time to watch this astonishing natural performance. While butterflies migrate in many places, Taiwan has one of the biggest after the monarch migration in North America.
One of the best places to see the migration is in Linnei, a small town about 20km south of Changhua. A few of use scouted it out yesterday though unfortunately saw little because we had been given wrong info on times.
The times to see the migration are between 7-9am. Don’t go on cold days or when cold fronts have hit. The butterflies need warm weather and also winds from the south (which they ride north).
On the weekend there are shuttle buses (8.30am-4.30pm) from the Linnei train station to an area called Linbei Village Chukou. This just off Provincial Hwy 3 at the point where it almost touches Freeway 3. There is a big area here for watching the butterflies fly over. You can’t miss it as if you look up you’ll see the nets they place up the side of the highway to help the butterflies fly over without getting hit by cars.
As I said, we got there too late (around 11am) and saw maybe a few hundred over an hour period. Still, watching even a few tiny creatures like these migrate was cool. On the best days you can see hundreds, even thousands a minute flying over.
If you drive take the Linnei exit off Freeay 3 and head towward Linnei on Provincial 3. Drive through Linnei downtown and look for the big butterfly poster on the left a few km further down No 3. It’s hard to miss.
From the freeway exit it’s maybe a 10-15 minute drive to Chukou.
Thanks for posting, might just do that if weather warms up. I live near Taichung metro park and I remember you mentioned it is possible to see them there also.
Yes, the metro park is also supposed to be a good area. Everything’s unpredictable of course but you’re only 40km or so north of Linnei so the migration should be around the same time period.
I wonder if there is any way to get regular updates from the highway department as they will close one lane on each side of the freeway and slow traffic down during the peak period. If you knew when that was happening it would be real time info on the migration.
Oh, here it is. The exact spot too as the right hand side of the highway has the nets showing and that’s the river below.
1968.freeway.gov.tw/EN/view_mjpe … Type=11#up
Or this view facing south. Actually a better view I think.
1968.freeway.gov.tw/EN/view_mjpe … Type=11#up
If anyone is interested in seeing it, I can lend you my copy of The Butterfly Code. It’s a National Geographic Channel : Taiwan To The World documentary on the purple butterfly migration. I did the English voice-over for it. Quite an interesting project to be a part of.
One thing that still astonishes me, some of the butterflies that were tagged or marked in Taiwan were discovered in Japan later in the year. That a butterfly can make it across the ocean from Taiwan to Japan is just un-freaking-believable.
Different butterfly. The ones that sometimes make it to Japan are chestnut tigers and they live in the north in Yangmingshan. Their flight to Japan is not considered migration but a random act.
These are purple crow butterflies that are now migrating and it is a true and very rare mass migration.
Anyway, nice work on the documentary. Have seen it and it is good.
Yes, you’re right. The butterflies that make it to Japan are the chestnut tigers. The reverse happens too, butterflies tagged in Japan have been found in Taiwan also. There is some ongoing debate in the scientific community about whether this is a kind of migration or something else.
The Butterfly Code documentary does feature the purple crow butterflies though as well, and the trouble they face down south in Taiwan with their migration. I should have been more specific when mentioning the various types.
[quote=“k.k.”]Yes, you’re right. The butterflies that make it to Japan are the chestnut tigers. The reverse happens too, butterflies tagged in Japan have been found in Taiwan also. There is some ongoing debate in the scientific community about whether this is a kind of migration or something else.
The Butterfly Code documentary does feature the purple crow butterflies though as well, and the trouble they face down south in Taiwan with their migration. I should have been more specific when mentioning the various types.[/quote]
No problem, I figured you knew and just forget some details, but I wanted to clear it up for any readers.
Can you find any sources that verify a Japan to Taiwan flight of chestnuts?
The debate on the migration from Taiwan to Japan seems more a media debate. I’ve interviewed the top experts in Taiwan and they have said no, this is not a migration but a random individual phenonmenon.
I’m going from what I read in the script from the documentary. Maps and animation along with shots showing the marking numbers on the butteflies undersides corresponded to the info I was reading in the script for the video portion of the documentary.
All I’m saying is that there is still some discussion on what the travel back and forth is, what it represents, and how strange it is. Again, this comes from the interview parts with researchers in the documentary I voiced. It’s been 2-3 years since that production though.
Awww, I’d like to see that, but I won’t be able to. Oh well…
Muzha Man, is that your blog in your sig line? Nice photos etc.
As for the butterflies, there could be a migration route, nobody has done any proper research on the matter. Things that would suggest a migration route would be a difference in the genetic make-up of the butterflies migrating to Japan as opposed to staying on mainland Taiwan. You could also net butterflies on small islands in between Taiwan and Japan if they use them as rest-stops. Look at google earth, you will see the islands clearly.
In addition, migration routes makes sense over a long time scale as over most of the last 130,000 years the earth was undergoing an ice age http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_glacial_period, that means sea levels were lower than now, there would have been land bridges ( Taiwanese macaque and black bear are almost the same as Japan’s, migration from Korea/China or between Taiwan and Japan?) and at the very least there would have been many more islands in between Taiwan and Japan decreasing distance.
As I mentioned in another thread, I was once on Fulong beach and saw a steady stream of butterflies flying in from the ocean…they didn’t look like they were lost to me but I didn’t get a chance to ask them .
[quote=“Bao_Lisha”]Awww, I’d like to see that, but I won’t be able to. Oh well…
Muzha Man, is that your blog in your sig line? Nice photos etc. [/quote]
Yep, my blog. Thanks.
HH, people are doing research on the chestnuts and possible migration to Japan all the time. I met the guy who tagged the first butterfly that made it to Japan and spent the afternoon with him and his team on Yangmingshan last spring. The problem with the migration theory is that you have thousands of chestnut butterflies marked every year by this and other teams and only a dozen or so (forget the exact number) have been found in Japan over the past decade. Those are bad odds for a migration.
With the amount of attention being paid to this I’d say that there would be a lot more evidence of a migration if such a thing were possible. Of course it still could be happening, but I see no reason to believe that. That this is just a random act where the occassional butterfly is able to ride the strong seasonal winds to Japan is where the evidence is leaning. YMMV.
I guess the researcher and you should know a lot more than I do about this. But I’d like to see if they had people in Japan looking for them? Where? Japan is a big place. Do these butterflies fly both ways or only one way to reproduce?
I have some brief experience encountering local Taiwanese biologists, regarding Taiwan’s black bear, they didn’t seem to have a clue to be honest and they were the experts!
Here’s a small article in English from Japan
yomiuri.co.jp/education/kouz … 030701.pdf
We can see from this article that not much is known in Japan but that they are flying long distances between islands there too. Basically nothing is known about their lifestyle or migration. The political separation of Taiwan and Japan means nothing to a butterfly, only geographic distance and seasonal winds count. In my opinion the Taiwanese researcher you met is too quick to discount the theory…actually his data is very very limited. He can prove that most butterflies are not migrating to Japan, but has no idea whether a subset actually ARE doing this. His insistence on saying that it is probably winds or stray butterflies is puzzling.
They’re not migrating, they’re just going on holiday.
[quote=“urodacus”]They’re not migrating, they’re just going on holiday.[/quote]Visa run
HH, yesterday was one of the peak days of the migration according to the news. Up to 400 butterflies a minute passing over the highway. If you have time I would head out to Taichung Metro Park tomorrow morning.