Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Sky Blue

It was a sad and wet wash-out day until a small but brilliantly blue piece of the sky fluttered in front of me. It was one of our more oddly named butterflies, the Sky Blue, Jamides caeruleus.

I find it strange that where there are thousands of butterflies with 'sky blue' uppersides, this one took the title. There's no doubt, however, that it deserves the name. When it flies, the bright blue upperside almost glows. It didn't open its wings for me but it did give me a glimpse of the stunning blue when it shuffled its hindwings up and down.

The sky blue is an uncommon forest butterfly in Singapore but can be found around flowering Yellow Saraca trees (saraca cauliflora), their larval host plant. The caterpillars feed on the orange-yellow flowers, which grow in large clusters around the trunk and the larger branches. Here is a beautifully detailed account of the butterfly's life history. 

The sky blue has a fluttering flight and usually does not fly above a metre, staying close to the ground, unless it is very disturbed. I initially thought this one was a Glistening Caerulean (J. elpis), a close cousin of the sky blue. The two are superficially similar and only after close scrutiny and consulting the butterfly expert, Dr  
Seow, did I find out it's real identity. 

Photographing it was another challenge but fortunately it stayed very still even when there were countless joggers running past it. I even managed to coax it onto my finger! Unusually, a lady walking by came to see what I was shooting. More often than not, people would look over when they see a boy with a huge camera aiming at some leaves but walk by when they can't see what about the leaves is so interesting. Lucky for the lady, who took lots of pictures of it on her phone; you don't often run into a sky blue!


  1. What a beautiful little butterfly. The blue does seem particularly intense. It is great that it was so obliging allowing you to get such great pictures.

  2. It is very intense! For this species even the female has a deep blue (albeit not as intense as the male's) upperside. It's unique in that sense since most female lycaenidae are brown or pale blue on top.. I met some today too and none were willing to sit still! This individual was a wonderful subject. :)