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)

The Troides andromache, commonly known as the Kinabalu Birdwing, is a giant butterfly that is both rare and endangered. The female of the species boasts an impressive wingspan of 185mm, approximately the size of a small dinner plate. This magnificent creature is endemic to Borneo and finds its stronghold on Mt. Kinabalu, which stands at 4095 meters in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. It is a symbol of pride for Sabah, as there are no confirmed colonies of this species elsewhere on the island.

Interestingly, there seems to be a closely related species with two known colonies in Sarawak and one in Kalimantan. To better understand the evolutionary relationships within this species complex, we have a PhD student from Wageningen University in the Netherlands conducting research.

In Sabah, our dedicated team is actively engaged in assessing the risk of extinction faced by the Kinabalu Birdwing and is taking measures to bolster its population. Since 2018, our conservation efforts have been generously supported by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, the Ministry of Tourism Sabah, and the Hyatt Regency Hotel Kota Kinabalu.

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 collaborating with Homestay operators in Kg Kiau, located at the foothills of Mt. Kinabalu, to cultivate the host plants essential for the caterpillars of the majestic Kinabalu Birdwing butterfly. This initiative aims to attract paying visitors who are eager to photograph these free-flying giants in their natural habitat, thereby creating a new and sustainable source of income for the community.

Ongoing: Pyraloid Moths of Borneo

Featured is an image of a Musotiminae species (Crambidae), specifically Musotima new species #13, discovered in the Tamparuli area of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We extend our gratitude to Ron Eldie for this contribution.

Pyraloid Moths of Borneo

Since 2009, Stephen, along with three other researchers—Dato’ Henry Barlow, Lim Kooi Fong, and Dr. Terry Whitaker—has been dedicated to compiling a comprehensive guide to the Pyraloid Moths of Borneo. Volume 1 is already published, and Volume 2 has been submitted to the publisher. In 2023, we anticipate the valuable contribution of Dr. Richard Mally as the lead author for Volume 3.

This ambitious project encompasses the publication of three printed volumes aimed at the identification of species within the Superfamily Pyraloidea, of which approximately 2,000 species are known in Borneo to date. Additionally, a website that complements the printed volumes will be available.

Stephen is not only a dedicated researcher but also an avid educator. He frequently delivers lectures on insect biodiversity and canopy research to a diverse audience that includes academics, civil society groups, and tour participants in Sabah. Additionally, he contributes articles and reviews to further the knowledge in his field of expertise.

Stephen was a partner in the brick-and-mortar and online bookstore Borneo Books from 1999 to 2014. For an insightful account of this business endeavor, readers are invited to peruse the essay “Decline & Fall of a Small Bookshop” located in the ‘Stories’ section. It is important to note that the website borneobooks.com has since been decommissioned.