Sunday, March 8, 2009

Melastoma malabathricum and Butterfly @ WWW

A few of us from ButterflyCircle visited this wild land somewhere in the Western part of Singapore on a not-so-sunny Saturday (7 March) morning.

My first shot of the day was this human face-like moth with a pair of huge eye spots on the forewings. A scary-looking low flying moth, it preferred to land in the undergrowth, showing a glimpse of prominent orange patch on its underside wings when it was in flight. I have seen this moth a few times but at the moment cannot recall where I saw the id.

The vegetation is similar to those abandoned farmland in a countryside where wild grasses, ferns, weeds and some tall trees occupy most areas. One of the most prominent shrubs we can see there is the Singapore rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum). This common wasteland shrub was abundant there with lots of attractive and showy pale purple flowers blooming, attracting quite a number of butterfly species. In fact, most of my butterfly shots were associated with this plant.

My main objective of this outing was to get some good shoots of this orange beauty Pandita sinope sinope which is not a very common butterfly. I first shot it at Upper Seletar Reservoir some years ago. I was excited when I saw quite a few of them fluttering, but ..Somehow they were not cooperative yesterday. They either perched at a high level or were just too skittish and alert, giving us little chance of getting close to them. We wished we had a high stool in the field to shoot this beauty when they were feeding high on the Melastoma. They usually rest or perch with open wings, so getting a good underside shot is therefore quite rare.

The picture below shows a snap shot of a female Colour Sergeant (Athyma nefte subrata) while she was flapping her wings gradually. Generally, Colour Sergeant likes to glide and perch along sunlit forest edges. However, it can also be found in some of our urban parks situated near a secondary forest. Out of the four Flos species that can be found in Singapore, we were indeed lucky to spot two of them on one of the Malestoma shrubs. This Flos fulgida singhapura was rather skittish at first and its presence in front of us was like a phantom. Later in the morning, it was spotted again, happily feeding on some dry fruits high on a Malestoma plant. The second Flos is this Flos apidanus saturatus, feeding quite tamely on a dry and fermented fruit on the same plant but at a lower angle. One distinctive feature of this species is the presence of a red patch in the basal region on both wings. Elymnias hypermnestra agina (Common Palmfly) is a no stranger to most of us. But we would not see a Elymnias panthera panthera (Tawny Palmfly) frequently. This pristine Tawny Palmfly liked to hang itself in this manner to feed, allowing some of us to shoot with a clear background. Again, this male Scare Silverstreak butterfly with a very feminine and elegant scientific name Irota rochana bosewelliana also fed on dry fruits above my eye level. It's a pity that the hindwing is slightly torn but the glimpse of the blue upperside gives us the clue that this is a male.There were many butterfly species spotted at this undeveloped site. Here are other not-so-common butterfly species that I spotted.
1. Semanga superba deliciosa
2. Surendra vivarna amisena (Acacia Blue)
3. Papilio demolion demolion (Banded Swallowtail)
4. Tanaecia iapis puseda (Horsfield's Baron)
5. Euthalia monina monina (Malay Baron)

Perhaps I was too engrossed in stalking and hunting the P. sinope, I didn't really encounter many other small creatures. Only two non-butterfly shots.

This dragonfly, looks like a female Neurothemis fluctuans, landed in front of me, inviting me to take a few shots of it. I couldn't resist taking a closer look at this cute and tiny leaf beetle (?) wandering on a white Common Asystasia flower. It was a fruitful day for me though I did not have many good shots to bring home. I think this piece of wild land has very rich fauna diversity, waiting to be discovered.


  1. I visited twice this few days and noted that the area look dead and dried up. Some parts looked crushed. Also the construction work is getting heavier and there are more bulldozer tracks around. :(

    After my sunrise/landscape shots I was thinking to get some plant and insect pictures but found none. Even the birds seems lesser.


  2. Your moth looks similar to Spirama retorta (Noctouidae).