Monday, 9 September 2013

Dinner with the Archduke

To be precise, dinner with the ArchdukeS. Figuratively of course;
this is still essentially a nature blog, so do not expect to see me at
a feast with Austrian royals. In the butterfly world, archdukes are 
large and robust species from the genus of lexiasSingapore is 
home to three species. This is the most common, lexias paradalis
(In English, The Archduke)

In the late afternoon, most butterflies retire and settle under leaves 
for the night. By 5pm, the forests are usually quiet. Apart from the 
skittish branded imperial hopping around, probably the only 
butterflies that still active are the archdukes. The second species 
is the Black Tipped Archduke, l. dirtea. This species is distinguished 
by sporting entirely black antennae. This is a female.

Archdukes are forest butterflies, and are often seen zigzaging 
through the undergrowth. They tend to land on the leaf litter but 
I have seen startled individuals scoot off into the trees. Males are 
velvety black with a lovely blue marginal band. While the male and 
female differ in the earlier two, they look the same for our last 
species; lexias canescens, the Yellow Archduke. It is the rarest 
of the lot.

They aren't easy to shoot either. Being extremely wary to the 
slightest movements, they often race away before I spot them. 
Of course this might sound like a cheap excuse to explain the 
terrible pictures but I am being honest. In fact, most of my shots 
look like this:

Ugh... Worst still, the dark conditions they frequent need flash to 
illuminate. The result is terrible colour reproduction. The wonderful 
blues of the male that our eyes perceive (and that I have not shown 
you yet) are diluted into a milky colour. Yes, this is the upperside of 
the male.

Sometimes pictures cannot do justice to the butterflies. Therefore I 
present this blogs first video! My hands were shaky in the low light 
but I am really happy with how the colours look. Plus, this is truly 
the next best thing to going out into the dim jungle and seeing it 
yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, the Archduke.

With that I'll end off my little babble about the archdukes.