Saturday, 23 September 2017

Butterflies and Skippers of a Forest Trail - Sept 2017

Unlike in Singapore, there are not many naturalist in Malaysia who are keen in watching butterflies. Watching butterflies are not too difficult but looking for rare ones are a different story all together. It has been raining for the past weeks but when a window of opportunity arises, we need to take whatever chances that comes our way. Here are some of the butterflies and skippers seen in between the drizzle and sun light recently.

Courtesan (Euripus nyctelius)

This was the best photo i have so far of this butterfly species. Wonder how its eyes will look like under an electron microscope ?

Although it is not rare but this was the first time i have seen one with yellow eyes !

Dark Grass Brown

Common Duffer

I wonder whether it was a Great Duffer as i could not see any white forewing spots on the above butterfly.

Horsfield's Baron 
Note: there are a few subspecies for this butterfly species

Lately i have been seeing a lot more skippers in the forest than real butterflies. I wonder whether their population have taken over the butterflies which are much bigger in size and an easier prey to birds? 

Here are some of the skippers seen recently.
This is a female 'Dubious Filter' which is rare in this region, according to Kirton's (2014) field guide.

Here is a rare occasion where a Gem Demon (Ancistroides armatus) (top) is seen together with a Narrow-banded Velvet Bob (Koruthaialos rubecula) on a same leave. Without the help of a field guide, it will be quite a difficult task to identify skippers.

The above photos should be a "Little Lancer" (Isma bononia).

At times i wonder how some professionals were able to take close-up photos of these skippers as some of them are really skittish like the one below.  Using a 600mm lens to shoot this skipper will be like using a bazooka to kill a mosquito.

This one i believe should be a "Forest Hopper"

I reckon this should be a "Spotless Bob" (Idmon distanti)

The above two should be "Chocolate Demon" (Ancistroides nigrita)

Here is another "Gem Demon" (Ancistroides armatus) 

At times our views can be side tracked by other stunning flora and fauna seen nearby. Here are just some of them.

A red hot flower of a wild ginger plant.

Looks more like a strawberry coated jelly. If i was starving in the jungle i would have probably eaten it.

 This bluish colored fly was disturbing me so i decided to take his photo so that i will remember him when i see him again :-)


Sunday, 13 August 2017

An Afternoon with Skippers - August 2017

There are higher possibilities that you can find some butterflies in the afternoon rather than birds. While the birds are usually inactive in the afternoon, the butterflies and skippers will be busy looking for nectar despite the humid temperature.

Here are some photos of them in the mid afternoon.
Fulvous Pied Flat (Pseudocoladenia dan)

At just 1.5 cm this skipper is really small. It usually prefers to keep very low in the foliage as i have observed. Fortunately it is still very common i.e at least in this area of observation.

Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita)

This skipper is slightly larger at 2.3cm as compared to the earlier one. However unlike the skipper above, this one has a rather dull appearance. 

Common Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos)

Another demon at large.

This one looks like it was wearing a shade in the bright afternoon.

Another Common Banded Demon

Malayan Sailer (Neptis duryodana)

How did i know that it was a 'Malayan Sailer' instead of a 'Common Sailer'? Have a look at the photos below of the same butterfly.

Kirton (2014) described a 'Malayan Sailer' as having more brown on its underside as compared to orange-brown of a 'Common Sailer'.

Common 5-Ring (Ypthima baldus)
Not sure which is more common - Common 3-Ring or Common 5-Ring?

Malayan Wanderer (Pareronia valeria)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the above butterfly was a female 'Malayan Wanderer' which Kirton (2014) described as rare in this region. SG had just celebrated their national day recently while Malaysia will celebrate their 60th soon i.e on 31st August. This butterfly is specially dedicated to this very special occasion


Monday, 6 February 2017

Great Egg-Fly (Hypolimnas bolina)

Great Egg-fly

Recently i came across this Great Egg-fly. Apparently this butterfly species has some form of sexual dimorphism between male and female. According to the literature and field guide, the underside of a female is generally brown, with white marginal markings and white discal band (Kirton, 2014). Meanwhile it was reported that, there are currently two sub-species of Great Egg-fly in this region - i) Ssp H.b. bolina and ii) Ssp H.b jacinta. According to Kirton (2014) field guide, the female Ssp Jacinta has white marginal hindwing borders with some bluish discal patches. From the above description, this butterfly should be a female Great Egg-fly from the Ssp Jacinta.

Have a look at its eye ! It has a unique star-like pattern. 

One look at this butterfly you may think that it might resemble a female "Courtesan" (Euripus nyctelus) but with the help of a field guide you will find that a female "Courtesan" has a rounder discal marking. 

You can see the bluish discal patches which i believe was where their name has came from.

While photographing the Great Egg-fly, in came this "Common Mormon" (Papilio polytes). 


Friday, 8 July 2016

Butterflies of the Enchanted Forest - June 2016

Recently i came across a few amazing butterflies inside some enchanted forests in Peninsular Malaysia. Here is a butterfly which although not rare but you won't often get to see it.

Appias lalassis indroides
                                                         Kingdom:   Animalia
                                                         Phylum:     Arthropoda
                                                         Class:        Insecta
                                                         Order:        Lepidoptera
                                                         Family:      Pieridae
                                                         Subfamily: Pierinae
                                                         Tribe:         Pierini
                                                         Genus:      Appias
                                                         Species:    Appias lalassis
                                                         Sub Species: Appias lalassis indroides

Note: i have initially identified the above butterfly as a "Great Orange Tip" but alas it is not ! Local butterfly expert Liew Nyok Lin was kind enough to correct its identification to "Appias lalassis indroides" instead. Apparently this pierid which is a member of the genus "albatross" is endemic to Peninsular Malaysia. I can't find many literature on this butterfly so i guess it is also an uncommon butterfly. Here is what Liew Nyok Lin has to say about this butterfly:

"This butterfly is a submontane and montane species but was found quite regularly from May onwards puddling in moist spots by the stream singly and sometimes in small numbers. It has a much more elongated forewings than A.indra, visibly curved at the apex but the uppersides has the same plain black and white coloring. The undersides resemble that of the Great Orange Tip with brown mottling. They sometimes descend to the foothills in deeply wooded vicinities with water"

Here is another butterfly which you would not often see.
Chersonesia rahria (Greater Wavy Maplet)
As compared to the 'Common Mapwing', this Maplet is certainly way much smaller than the former.

Elymnias hypermnestra (Common Palmfly)
This is another uncommon butterfly with its distinctive white costal hindwing spot seen clearly here.

One of the genus "Eurema" butterflies which can make my "kepala pusing".  

This is a toss between an "Anderson's Grass Yellow" (Eurema andersonii andersonii)  and a "Forest Grass Yellow" (Eurema simulatrix tecmessa). However i believe this one should be an "Anderson's Grass Yellow" although i can barely see its single cell spot on the underside of its forewing. Having said that, we should also take note of the following comments from the Singapore's Butterfly Circle Group:

"However, we feel that, as E.andersonii is not the only species amongst the Eurema group to have a single cell spot, and should not lay claim to this common name as it could cause confusion. This is because the cell spots form just part of the diagnostic features of separating the Eurema group of species."

Orsotriaena medus (Dark Grass-Brown)
For reasons of identification, this butterfly (above) should be more straight forward.

Euploea radamanthus (Magpie Crow)
If you can't get minerals from the soil then you can also get it from some socks.

Here it is again (Magpie Crow) flapping away with its wings on a down ward motion.

Common Bluebottle

Zemeros flegyas
What a surprise ! A "Punchinello" seen here in a lowland forest.

Mycalesis janardana (Mottled Bush-Brown)
Here it is again showing off all its veins.

Neorina lowii (Malayan Owl)
This butterfly had always posed the facedown way to me!

A rusty looking  Archduke (Lexias pardalis)

Moduza procris 
The "Commander" is seen here with its long proboscis, soaking up whatever remaining minerals available in an abandoned cloth.

It is always nice to conclude with a "Painted Jezebel" (Delias hyparete). The flowers here look like they came from the "mile-a-minute" weed.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Amazing Skippers of The Forest Edge - June 2016

Watching butterflies can provide the same attraction and challengers as bird watching. Both species have wings, both have the kaleidoscopic assortment of colorful patterns and both have their unique behavior and characters to be observed. Some of them however are quite rare while some can be as common as your house sparrows. Sadly the population of some butterflies if not most of them are rapidly declining. The two major contributing factors should be the loss of their natural habitat arising from deforestation and land cultivation as well as due to the enormous collections amassed by both professional as well as private collectors. The second factor i believe has also significantly (although under-reported) contributed to the decline of a lot of butterfly species in some parts of  the world. This was due to the reason that although some butterflies do migrate but most of them don't travel that far. Hence their zoogeographical distribution are quite limited. In addition and unlike wildlife and birds, there are not many regulations out there (if there are any) which are created to prevent the extinction of certain number of insects particularly butterflies. Henceforth it is equally important to conserve the population of insects such as butterflies as some of them are the main source of diet for insectivores (example flycatchers, bats etc) as well as an agent of pollination. 

Recently while watching birds, me and my naturalist partner came across a patch of grassland which we have not explored. We were amazed to find so many species of skippers in such a small location. More than 10 species of skippers were seen and some of them were so small (about 1.1cm) that they look almost like your common household flies. Most of them were common though and here are some of their photos:

Pseudocoladenia dan (Fulvous Pied Flat)

Like bird watching, it would also be advisable to take photos of butterflies at different angles so that a more positive identification of their subspecies can be determined especially those difficult ones.

Pelopidas conjunctus assamensis
The above swift i believe is the more rarer "Conjoined swift" called "Great Swift" (Kirton, 2014)

Koruthaialos sindu (Bright Red Velvet Bob)

Here is another bob:
Chestnut Bob (Lambrix salsala)
Hello Bob !

Common Snow Flat (Tagiades japetus)

Taractrocera archias (Yellow Grass Dart)
Apparently members of the "Herperiidae" family were described from their darting flights.

i believe the above two photos depict a "Polytremis lubricans" (Contigous Swift)

Common Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos)

Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita)

Brown Bob (Psolos fuligo)


Butterflies and Skippers of a Forest Trail - Sept 2017

Unlike in Singapore, there are not many naturalist in Malaysia who are keen in watching butterflies. Watching butterflies are not too diffi...