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)


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus malayanus)

Here is another butterfly which would require your mental faculties to work overtime. If you have compared the photos in the literature with the photos below, you might probably have some doubts on its identification. The literature described the butterfly as having a black upperside and a creamy ground color underside. Most of the pictures in the field guide as well as in the internet in fact show an almost overall black coloration. 

The reason for this color distortion was probably due to the effect of direct sunlight. There were however several features which i have used to derived my conclusion on this butterfly.

i)  There is a large ocellus spot in between interspace 7 and post discal section of its wing.

ii) large number of irregular spots on forewings in interspaces 5 to 8 towards Apex (M3 - R4).

iii) two orange spots in between the area of 'tornus' and 'postdiscal' on its hindwing.

Here it is again under a shade.

This butterfly was photographed in Northern Peninsular of Malaysia and it was surprising to know that the literature has considered this butterfly a pest !


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Butterflies of Ulu Langat Forest - May 2016

Watching and identifying butterflies can be just as tricky as birding. Some of them can be straight forward while some may need your closer observation. Have a look at the photo of the following skipper:

It has dark brown underside and a creamy white band. Your first thought could be a "Dark Banded Ace" (Halpe ormenes). But it was actually just a "Common Banded Demon" (Notocrypta paralysos).

Here it is again from another angle. In bright light, the all black color description associated with this skipper would have distorted the views of some people.

The other butterflies seen in this forest area are more straightforward:

Banded Yeoman (Cirrochroa orissa)

Small Leopard (Phalanta alcippe alcesta)

This "leopard" surely wont eat humans.

Chestnut Bob (Lambrix salsala salsala)

This skipper is however less confusing on its features.

Chocolate Albatross (Appias lyncida)

One of the most common butterfly which you can find in inland forest.

Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae)

The most common 'swallowtails' which you will encounter. This photo was taken while it was still fluttering.

There are not many butterflies seen around lately. Could it be due to the current hot weather or perhaps i was just not paying much attention.


Butterflies of Tropical Rainforest - 2017

In the tropical rainforest, you will feel just like a child in a toy shop. There are so many things to explore and see within a day. Like b...