• Invertebrate Life on Hainan Island
  • 4th -8th April 2016


  • The tropical island of Hainan is the southernmost of point in China, just a few hundred kilometers from the border with Vietnam. The coastal areas are a very popular, rapidly developing tourist destination, but I spend five days in Jianfeng Ling National Park in the central mountains which is still relatively undisturbed. There were few mammals to be seen and the birds were very timid but there was plenty of invertebrate life in the secondary rainforest.

    The butterflies were impressive, with all the main families represented:

    Common Jay Butterfly (Graphium doson) in Jiangfeng Ling National Park Glassy Tiger butterfly (Parantica aglea) feeding
    Common Jay (Graphium doson) and Glassy Tiger (Parantica aglea)

    Red Helen Butterfly (Papilio helenus) in Jiangfeng Ling National Park Dora's Harlequin Butterfly (Taxila dora) in Jiangfeng Ling National Park
    Red Helen (Papilio helenus) and Dora's Harlequin (Taxila dora)


    There was also a huge variety of other invertebrates from stick insects and beetles to many different species of dragon and damselflies.

    Young Stick Insect (Phasmatodea sp.) in Jiangfeng Ling National Park
    Young Stick Insect (Phasmatodea sp.)

    Longhorn Beetle (Cerambycidae sp.) in Jiangfeng Ling National Park Scarlet Skimmer Dragonfly (Crocothemis servilia) in Jiangfeng Ling National Park
    Longhorn Beetle (Cerambycidae sp.) and Scarlet Skimmer (Crocothemis servilia)


    For me, the most impressive invertebrates were the facinating range of spiders:

    Black and White Spiny spider (Gasteracantha kuhlii) on the web Poltys spider (Poltys sp.) camouflaged
    Black and White Spiny spider (Gasteracantha kuhlii) and Hainan Long-jawed spider (Leucauge sp.)

    Poltys spider (Poltys sp.) on the web Poltys spider (Poltys sp.) camouflaged
    Poltys spider on it's web at night and then camouflaged as a stick in the day. The 'eyes' you can see are fake ones on the end of the abdomen, the head is actually the other side!

    Northern Golden Orb-weaver spider (Nephila pilipes) giant female
    Northern Golden Orb-weaver (Nephila pilipes)

    Golden Orb-weaver (Nephila) spiders are facinating creatures. The giant females are about the size of a man's outstretched hand and spend the day sitting in the middle of their massive orb webs. The silk is incredibly strong and they have even been known to trap and eat small birds.
    If you look closely at the photo above though, you'll see there are actually two spiders on the web. The tiny orange one is an adult male waiting for a chance to mate with the female. Male nephila spiders are always much smaller than the female and she will often have several waiting around the edge of her web. It's thought the reason the male is so small is so he can sneak up and climb onto her before she realises he's there... to avoid being eaten!