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What Type of Plant Does the Rice Paper Butterfly Prefer?

Updated February 21, 2017

The paper kite or rice paper butterfly (Idea leuconoe) is a large, white and black species related to the common monarch butterfly. Like the monarch, its larvae feed off plants with milky, alkaloid-laden sap, which makes the adult butterflies unpalatable to predators.

Food Plants

Rice paper butterflies are native to Malaysia and Indonesia and feed on plants native to those areas. Two of those food sources are species of the genus Parsonsia, which is a member of the Apocynaceae or dogbane family. The butterflies also feed on another dogbane, the vining Tylophora hispida.

Cynanchum

Another rice paper butterfly food plant is Cynanchum formosanum, a summer flowering member of the Asclepiadaceae or milkweed family. Dogbanes and milkweeds are closely related families, united by a number of characteristics, including the nature of their sap.

Idea Leuconoe Facts

Like its monarch butterfly relations, rice paper butterflies are large and slow in flight. The common names of "rice paper butterfly" and "paper kite butterfly" are derived from their resemblance in flight to either an airborne scrap of paper or a white and black kite.

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About the Author

Elisabeth Ginsburg, a writer with over 20 years' experience, earned an M.A. from Northwestern University and has done advanced study in horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Her work has been published in the "New York Times," "Christian Science Monitor," "Horticulture Magazine" and other national and regional publications.