20th December 2022

Stephen Laurence Sutton, MA, D.Phil (Oxford), Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (UK), F.R.E.S., Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (UK), F.R.G.S.

This website aims to introduce you to Stephen Laurence Sutton’s current activities, background and publications.

Currently two main projects:

  1. Kinabalu Birdwing Butterly
  2. Pyraloids Moths of Borneo

News: The Heart of Borneo Symposium December 2022, Kota Kinabalu

 50th Anniversary Dinner of WWF Malaysia

Kinabalu Birdwing Project team at the Heart Of Borneo Symposium 2nd December 2022 at Sabah International Conference Centre. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. 

L to R. Co-chair of KBB Dr Stephen Sutton, Dr Arthur Chung, Deputy Director (Research) of the Forest Research Centre of the Sabah Forestry Department (Sabah’s senior government entomologist. Associate member of KBB project). Paul Foronda & Suzanne Goh, Field Organizer.

Here is an introductory video followed by a dance video made in 2019 to raise awareness about this endangered butterfly for the school kids living on the slopes of Mt Kinabalu. The Birdwing Courtship Dance video at the Sabah Kids Bird & Butterfly Festival (April 2019) at Kampung Kiau, Mount Kinabalu.

Current Work on the Kinabalu Birdwing Butterfly

Ongoing: The Kinabalu Birdwing Butterfly Project (KBB)

This giant butterfly (Troides andromache – the female is the size of a small dinner plate -185mm wing span) is endemic to Borneo, rare and endangered. Its stronghold is Mt Kinabalu (4095m) in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. It is very much Sabah’s butterfly. There are no confirmed colonies of this species in the rest of Borneo. There is what appears to be a closely related species which has two colonies in Sarawak and one in Kalimantan. We have a PhD student at Wageningen University in the Netherlands studying the evolutionary relationships of this species complex. In Sabah we are a small team assessing the risk of extinction for the Kinabalu Birdwing and taking action to increase its numbers. We have been generously supported by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, the Ministry of Tourism Sabah and the Hyatt Regency Hotel Kota Kinabalu since 2018 to do this.

Female Kinabalu (or Borneo) Birdwing – Troides andromache) Mountain Valley Resort, Kiau Gap, Sabah. Photo: Arthur Chung

It was internationally classified as rare and endangered in 1987. We are re-assessing its status following a request from IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) via the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust of London https://sbbt.org.uk. It is one of four species of Birdwings in Sabah and the only one confined to the mountains.

Kinabalu Birdwing (male)

Kinabalu or Borneo Birdwing. Credit: Rainer Roth
We are working with Homestay operators in Kg Kiau (Mt Kinabalu) to grow the host plant of the caterpillar of the Kinabalu Birdwing, so that paying visitors coming to photograph free-flying giant butterflies can provide a new, sustainable income stream.

Ongoing: Pyraloid Moths of Borneo

Credit: Ron Eldie

Pyraloid Moths of Borneo. Since 2009 Stephen has been one of four researchers (Dato’ Henry Barlow, Lim Kooi Fong and Dr Terry Whitaker being the others) who have been assembling a guide to the Pyraloid Moths of Borneo. Vol 1 has been published and Vol 2 is with the publisher. In 2023 we expect that Dr Richard Mally will join us as lead author of Vol 3.

It involves publishing three printed volumes for identification of species of the Superfamily Pyraloidea (c. 2,000 species in Borneo known so far) and a website linked to the printed volumes.   Image is of a species of Musotiminae (Crambidae)(Musotima new species #13) from Tamparuli area, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Thanks to Ron Eldie.

From time to time Stephen lectures on insect biodiversity and canopy research to academics, civil societies and tour groups in Sabah and writes articles and reviews. Borneobooks.com Stephen was a partner in the bricks & mortar and online shop Borneo Books (1999–2014). See ‘Decline & Fall of a Small Bookshop’ in the ‘Stories’ section for details of this venture. Please note that this borneobooks.com website has now been shut down.