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)


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 !


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