Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Darky Plushblue

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilada! I usually would not be able to shoot
on a Tuesday but this one was a public holiday. I was in luck. I saw
all four species of our flos butterflies, a family I have become rather
obsessed with. The flos are a group of forest-dwelling lycaenids that 
have wonderful colours. All are skittish insects and are strong fliers. 
One of the species I encountered was the Darky Plushblue, the least 
common of the lot. This is a male.

The darky plushblue is deep umber underneath, with a series
of paler bands that are covered in metallic scales, reflecting
shades of blue and violet at certain angles. They are rarely
observed but are attracted to fruiting melestoma bushes. While
the termen (outer edge) of the forewing in the female is rounded,
the males' are straight.

I was fortunate enough to observe a few individuals, as opposed
to the usual single specimen. From afar, their brilliant colours are
actually inconspicuous and dull, only illuminating with the extra light 
from a camera flash. On top, they are even more spectacular. Even
the female, the often duller gender, has a glowing violet upperside.

My luck with shooting the fantastic uppersides ended with that 
female, who was basking in the cool morning air. As for the male, 
whose upperside is extensively ultramarine with a thin black border, 
I managed only this glimpse.

However, in flight, these colours are once again hidden. They
seem black when they fly and do not flash their gaudy wings. Perhaps
this is because the blue that we see is a result of the wing scales' 
micro structure and not pigment. As always, the most spectacular 
butterflies have to be the shyest. Here are some of the "record 
shots" I earned from hours of chasing them in the sweltering heat.

You can get a rough idea of its size by comparing it against
the fly. Here it is feeding on a melastoma fruit; a butterfly magnet.

This was the first time I had seen this lovely jewel. It is really
quite something to see a new species, as even though I have 
drooled over others' pictures of the darky plushblue, nothing 
comes close to actually seeing it. It seems to be doing well at
its colony at the moment and I hope the presence of their caterpillar
host plant keeps them around.


  1. What a beautiful little butterfly. I hadn't realized quite how small it was until I saw the picture of it next to the fly. Do the other species look similar to this one?

  2. The three others look close. They have similar colouration but the are generally paler than the darky. In this post http://nypsbluebottle.blogspot.sg/2013/05/two-weekends-at-mandai-part-one.html I've got two other flos butterflies. The last, the Bifid Plushblue, has eluded me!