Sunday, 18 May 2014

Back to Butterflying

If birdwatching can surpass grammar to become 'birding', I don't see why butterfly watching can't! My examinations finished just last week and I've been able to return to butterflying. It seems like perfect timing too, for the butterfly numbers are on the rise. Many butterflies can be seen flying by the roads. The forests are getting exciting too, with some uncommon species turning up. One of them, the green oakblue, seems to be doing well this year. This is a female sunbathing.

Where's the green? On the male's upperside. Unfortunately, I didn't see any males that day. There were a number of females out though and I suspect they were out to lay eggs. They would flutter around a certain bush and land in obscure places. I did not witness any actual egg-laying but the behaviour points to it. After a while of that, they would fly off to a nearby shrub and spread their wings flat. It is truly a spectacular sight. The underside is not quite as brilliant.

There were a number of Malayan Sunbeams out too. Sunbeams are fast flying blues that are usually seen on damp patches on the ground. We have two species occurring here, one being the Malaysian and the other, the Sumatran sunbeam. The latter is more often found in mangrove forests. Underneath, the Malayan sunbeam is silvery-white, peppered with lots of tiny black spots. The legs are unique too; they look rather like candy canes!

Like the green oakblue, their name comes from the upperside, which is bright vermillion. The clashing colours make them very conspicuous in flight. Most of the time, sunbeams prefer to open their wings in the late afternoon. This one only gave me a peek.

Another white-ish butterfly, the Malayan, referred to as the Malayan Pied Blue in Dr. Kirton's new butterfly book, was fluttering nearby. It is a tiny butterfly, with a forewing length of only 1cm. While it may be uncommon, it can be found in parks and gardens and not just in forests. Interestingly, it has an Australian counterpart, megisba strongyle, the Pied Blue, which looks very similar. The species we have here is m. malaya.

I was surprised to bump into one of my favourite butterflies, the
bifid plushblue. It is an elusive member of the flos genus, which I have gone on and on about before. I absolutely love the colour variations on the underside. This one was a very pristine specimen and the colours were even brighter. It disliked my flash, jumping every time I fired a shot, so this picture was taken with my shaky hands in the low light.

Along with the rising temperatures that the butterflies love, the humidity levels are increasing too. It is become quite unbearable to be outside; the air isn't just hot, it's wet too. I suppose that is just one of the little inconveniences we have to put up with to live amongst the rich diversity of tropical butterflies!


  1. What a lovely selection of butterflies. The first two are real surprises when they open their wings, particularly the Malayan Sunbeam which looks as though it would be white when it opens it wings. My favourite here is the Malayan Pied Blue. I love the markings on its wings and legs. You have managed to capture it beautifully, particularly considering how small it is.

  2. Thanks Nick! One reason I really love lycaenidae is that they can be quite spectacular on top. The sunbeam is such a lovely butterfly! I have seen quite a few of them lately.

    I like the pied blue too. It has amazing little details. I was surprised by how small it was the first time I saw one.