Butterfly Spotting and Identification in Don Chao Poo Forest, Phana

Butterfly Spotting and Identification in Don Chao Poo Forest, Phana

By Helen Ford


The forest here is full of biodiversity. You have the macaques, monitor lizards, birds of prey, ground squirrels and an abundance of different insects. My focus was on the lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). I was interested in identifying as many as possible, yet this was easier said than done, as most do not stay in one place even for a second and I only gave myself 3 days to complete the task. Butterflies can be seen throughout the forest and there is even much diversity in the species in the town itself. Look hard enough and you will find a new species every day. I decided to record what I observed in a few specific locations in the forest, where if you spent just 15 minutes in each site, you would be able to see a range of different species in each location.


(Google Earth, 2014)

Site 1

Date: 09/06/2015, Time: 9:35am

Habitat type: Scrub/grassland/bare ground/forest edge

Butterflies identified: Grass Yellow, Tawny Coster, Common Jay

Butterflies unidentified: Black with swallow tail and white markings (possibly Common Mormon), large white/cream very common throughout forest, brown underside of wings with blue on inside (see picture).

Other notes: Found 2 different kinds of caterpillar. One belonging to Tawny Coster (red spiky).


Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore). Host plant is the passion flower which are found in site 1. Below is its larval form. Photo by Helen Ford.



Grass Yellow Butterfly (Eurema hecabe). Photo by Helen Ford.


As yet unidentified caterpillar. Photo by Helen Ford.


Unidentified butterfly. Photo by Helen Ford.


Date: 10/06/2015, Time 4:20pm

Butterflies present: Tawny Coster, grass yellow

Unidentified: suspected lime butterfly, other white with black markings, black with white bottom and bluish black tinge.

Other notes: On way to site, on path from shrine spotted Peridrome orbicularis, (see other locations) on underside of a leaf. (Spotted again on Buddha Path near Buddha 1 the following day at similar time).

Site 2 (OTP Road)

Date 09/06/2015, Time: 11:00am4

Habitat: Concrete/scrub/forest edge

Butterflies identified: Common Jay, Lime, Grass Yellow, Tawny Coster

Unidentified: Lots of large white/ cream butterflies, small white with black markings, white and black spotted- possibly Common Mime.

Site 3 (North side of pond)

Date: 09/06/2015, Time: 12.15am

Habitat: grassland/scrub/concrete/pond/ forest edge

Butterflies identified: Tawny Coster, Grass Yellow,


Same Day, Time 5:45pm

Virtually none present

Site 4 (South of pond)

Butterflies identified: Yellow Orange Tip Butterfly (Ixias pyrene), tawny coster, grass yellow

Unidentified: Yellow spotted, small brown with eyes on outside of wings,

Habitat: Same as site 3


Same Day, Time 5:30pm

Butterflies identified: Common Rose, Blue Tiger

Unidentified: Possible Black Mime

Site 5 (Around Buddha 1)

Date: 10/06/2014, Time: 9:00am

Habitat: Concrete/ clearing/ forest edge/ forest

Butterflies/ Moths identified: Plain banded awl, blue tiger, and grass yellow

Unidentified: Other small white and black species and larger yellow and cream species


Plain Banded Awl (Hasora vitta). Taken by Helen Ford

Site 6 (Around Temple)

Date: 11/06/2015, Time: 9:40am

Habitat: Forest edge/ clearing/ building/scrub

Butterflies identified: Grass Yellow, Common Rose

Unidentified: white with black veins see picture


Unidentified as yet.

Other Locations


Peridrome orbicularis. Sighted between Site 1 and Shrine.

Photo by Helen Ford


Yamfly (Loxura atymnus).

Sighted on Buddha path between central road and Buddha 3.

Photo by Helen Ford


Google Earth, 29/01/2014. 15⁰40’09.51” N 104⁰51’31.65” E, elevation 152 m.

Accessed: 11/06/2015.

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Monkeys and Water

CL at work

Chris Love was with us in Phana for about six months. He provided water for the monkeys almost every morning, first thing. He managed to combine that with taking some great photographs of the monkeys. Here are some which show how much the monkeys appreciated having water provided for them.

monkey & hose pipe CL1 Monkeys water CL monkey water CL CL fb8 CL fb5 CL fb4 CL fb2

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Population increases in Don Chao Poo Forest


There is no doubt that the population of long-tailed macaques in Don Chao Poo Forest, Phana, is increasing and in the long run that could adversely affect the lives of the monkeys as well as nearby human residents. In the meantime, everybody loves a new-born. This one was just a day or two old when we photographed her with her mother. Already she was eager to get to know her mother’s relatives it seems. And before long it looks as though she will have a cousin almost her own age.







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Feeding Monkeys in the Forest

New video produced by Phana Macaque Project

This is the English-language version of a video we have produced. The target audience of the Thai-language version is Phana school students. We hope that they will gain a greater understanding of the monkeys, learn to feed them safely and appropriately.

 The video lasts for a little over 11 minutes. We hope you will enjoy it.



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Preparing for the Monks’ Retreat


Every year at the end of December, Don Chao Poo Forest, Amphur Phana, Amnat Charoen Province, is host to a 10-day retreat for several hundred monks and lay men and women. The monks come from all over Isan and they camp in the forest. The local monks join them every day but return to their monasteries each evening. The local abbots and the monks together with the headmen and headwomen of the 34 villages that make up Phana District make all the arrangements and together with villagers they spend a week or so preparing the forest and the facilities that will be needed. And every day, villagers come into the forest to provide lunch for those who are making the preparations.

In the run-up to the start of the retreat,  perhaps 30 or 40 people are eating in the forest at about 11 am each day. But once the retreat starts, villages will take it in turns to share the responsibility of feeding the monks and lay people who are taking part in the retreat; and when they have eaten, the villagers themselves will eat, breakfast and lunch. And that means that up to 600 people may be eating two meals in the forest every day.

Crockery has to be taken out of store and washed and this group of women seemed to enjoy doing that – or at least they enjoyed having their photo taken while doing it.

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The forest itself is tidied up: the monks practise walking meditation so paths are swept clear of fallen leaves and some of the undergrowth cut back.

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Toilet and washing facilities have to be cleaned and fresh water put into the tanks. There are several of these scattered around in the southern part of the forest, mostly out of sight and forgotten for the rest of the year.


One building is given over to the senior monks, who do their teaching here:


And the area where the monks sit for their breakfast and lunch and to listen to the teaching is made more comfortable by having straw laid out on the forest floor.


Monks are summoned to the teaching sessions by this bell:


Trees are festooned with electrical wiring and neon lights and here is the control centre:


And the lay women who will be joining the retreat are afforded some privacy for their  camping area:


The Phana Monkey Project has been helping with the preparations, too. We painted the toilets that are provided for the people who organize food and do the washing up during the retreat. And more importantly we have been putting out 15 dustbins in the camping and eating areas and we will be emptying them daily during the 10-day retreat. We are expecting to clear a lot of litter and waste in the coming days!

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World Monkey Day

World Monkey Day

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Feeding the monkeys with chopped bananas

We always recommend chopping bananas before feeding them to the monkeys. But still many people hand out a branch with a huge bunch of bananas attached to it. The result is predictable: one large male monkey will grab the whole branch and prevent any others from feeding from it until he has had his fill. He always leaves about 10 – 15% of the bananas so that his family and allies can have some.

We prefer to chop the bananas so that a much greater number of monkeys benefit. As you will see here, they are keen to get their little hands on some, and there is a certain amount of scramble contest going on, but they know there is a good chance of getting some so they are really quite patient.

Hungry for chopped bananas
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