Compared to the island's birds, Taiwan's butterflies do not attract much interest from foreign enthusiasts. The English-language section of the Tourism Bureau's web site, which has several pages devoted to haunts for birdwatchers, contains just a few references to the insects.
This is a shame. Taiwan has 400-plus butterfly species - more than any Western European country, more than Japan (which has 10 times Taiwan's land area), and more even than Sri Lanka, which promotes itself as an eco-tourism destination.
Like birds, butterflies can be found in Taiwan's city parks and on farms, as well as in unspoiled rural and mountain areas. The warmer and sunnier the weather, the more active these flitting insects become. Unlike bird watching, which often is most successful in the very early morning or just before dusk, butterfly watching is best done between around 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Moreover, butterflies are more approachable than birds because they are less sensitive to sound. For these reasons, butterfly appreciation is perhaps a more accessible hobby than birding.
Unfortunately, in many parts of Taiwan, lepidopterans (the taxonomic order which includes both butterflies and moths) are in decline because of habitat loss. However, there are a few places where landowners are making an effort to attract and protect butterflies. One is Dingtugou Butterfly Village, southwest of downtown Chiayi...
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