ECOTOURISM

BUTTERFLY WATCHING

Taiwan has over 400 butterfly species, 60 of which are native to the island. Butterflies are so numerous that nets along sections of freeway are set up to make migrating butterflies fly higher and avoid getting hit by cars.

The largest protected species are the purple crow butterflies, which are characterized by splashes of iridescent blue on their dark brown wings. This is one of the world's largest winter migrating butterfly species. Every year, two million make a once-in-a-lifetime journey from northern and central Taiwan to the south. The trip can cover up to 300 kilometers. The best time to see these creatures is between November and March. At the Maolin Scenic Area Butterfly Trail (Kaohsiung) and in Linbei Village (Yunlin), these winged beauties make quite a spectacle in the winter and early spring.

In Taipei, Yangmingshan National Park and the butterfly trail off Jiannan Road let you observe around 150 species in their natural habitat between May and July. The Fuyuan Forest Recreation Area (Hualien) has butterfly corridors teeming with swallowtails, including the magnificent golden birdwing. The rustic town of Meinong (Kaohsiung) is home to over 100 species of the yellow emigrant butterfly. In late spring and summer, there can easily be a dozen species around you at any one time.

The Taipei Zoo and Kaohsiung’s Jinshi Lake Butterfly Garden have butterfly houses with hundreds of species. These include swallowtails, whites and sulphurs, brush-footed butterflies, and dead leaf butterflies. You will often see them feeding on fruit or mating. If you look close enough, you may also spot all four stages of their life cycle – egg, larva, pupa, and adult.