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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Malaysia’s Butterflies – The Glassy Tigers

An attractive butterfly with black bars segmenting bright yellow or light blue with shades of white on sections of the wings, depending on the species, makes it delightful to watch and photograph. I believe it is also frequently used in advertisement material due to its attractive markings, pay attention next time if a butterfly is featured, chances are it is a Glassy Tiger.
Frequently sighted in forested areas, it flies slowly and glides gracefully. I have read there are three species of the Glassy Tigers in Malaysia, the less common being the Dark Glassy Tiger, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to come across a specimen of the Dark Glassy Tiger.

Yellow Glassy Tiger - (Parantica aspasia)

This species of butterfly is toxic and distasteful to predators, which explains the colors, markings and other species mimicking them. The photos shown here are taken from a cemetery that is often deserted in a well forested area. I have often observed that if you spot a Yellow Glassy Tiger, the chance of sighting a Blue Glassy Tiger nearby is very high, it appears to share the same habitat and most probably the same preferred food.

Blue Glassy Tiger – (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina)

Capturing a photo with its wing opened is a challenge as it normally hangs upside down with the wings folded shut when at rest. An excellent time on catching these Glassy Tigers fluttering around seem to be just before noon in a lightly shaded area with lush vegetation on a dry sunny day.

Dark Glassy Tiger – (Parantica agleoides agleoides)

The most uncommon of Glassy Tigers, the black segments on the wings are really prominent and dark. Surprisingly, I find this particular species have a higher tendency to open up its wing during perching.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Malaysia’s Butterflies – The Eggfly (Hypolimnas)

The Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas Bolina Bolina)

One of the species I find particularly attractive with its bright blue and white spot markings on the wing, like most Eggfly species it is aggressive and territorial not hesitating to chase away any intruders that fly past. There are two subspecies, the other subspecies being the Jacintha Eggfly (H. bolina jacintha). This species of butterflies are also sometimes referred to as brush footed butterflies due to their brush like appendages on their first pair of legs, and only the other two pairs of legs at the back are used for walking.

It’s behavior is not unlike the Jacintha Eggfly, highly territorial, and often has a favorite place to perch. This species is reported to have strong wings, and is capable of migratory flights.

The Malayan Eggfly (Hypolimnas Anomala Anomala)

I observed the Malayan Eggfly to be territorial and often chase away other butterflies nearby and have the behavior of always returning to its favorite perch, there are times where I will find the same specimen flying and perching in the same location even after a week. It gave me the opportunity to test out what was documented by other butterfly enthusiast that it will even try to chase away a small piece of paper if you threw it at their direction. I have confirmed that they do react that way.

An excellent subject to photograph as it will remain stationary for long periods of time once it finds its favorite spot, even disturbing the surroundings will not chase it away for long. It is a fairly common butterfly from where I live as I encounter this species quite often.

There are also some specimens I observe, that does not have the blue metallic hue on the upper parts of the forewing.

The Jacintha Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina jacintha)
The blue sheen on the forewings reflecting the sun on a sunny day does make it looks attractive.
Not to be confused with the blue spotted crow (Euploea midamus chloe) the markings are almost similar. Do note that there are articles I read that identifies this as a female Great Eggfly, as I am not an entomologist by training I am not sure who is correct.

With some female species having mimicking abilities of other species, it does get difficult to positively identify some of them. On why mimicking of another species is done, it is to fool predators that they belong to species that are toxic and therefore are less likely to be attack or seen as a potential meal.