Monday, 21 October 2013

Amongst the Melastoma

Melastoma malabathricum, the Singapore Rhododendron, is a
common shrub that grows aggressively in disturbed habitats such
as secondary forests and grasslands. Their fruits are oval and break
open to reveal purple black flesh dotted with pale seeds. The name
'melastoma' is Greek for 'black mouth'; the pulp stains! Birds,
monkeys and butterflies love them. A top customer is the common
Purple Duke. This one is a male.

For the past few weeks I have been visiting Mandai forest
because there is an abundance of melastoma bushes. Many forest
species that dwell in the treetops descend to feed when there are
fruits. This is a Lance Sergeant enjoying a sip of the astringent juice.

In the previous post, I talked about one member of the flos
butterflies, a family of rare forest gems. Out of the total four,
one, the BIfid Plushblue had eluded me completely. Yesterday
when I was in Mandai, I struck gold. Here is the female that I
managed to shoot; my first bifid.

The name 'bifid' comes from the dark bifid (split into two) marking
on the hindwing. It looks a little like an 'n'. 

That wraps up my collection of the flos family! Another flos that
was about was the Shining Plushblue, just as rare.

One of our more common forest butterflies, the Malayan Lascar
is extremely fond of the fruit. Almost every bush had one of these
delicate butterflies feeding away. They are generally skittish but
the juice from the fruits seems to intoxicate them, making them
more willing to stay for a shot or two.

Melastoma bushes are excellent butterfly magnets, luring them out
from their shady forest habitats. This makes photographing them
so much easier. Amongst the melestoma there are many surprises!

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