Friday, May 15, 2009

Bidens pilosa @Wild Wild West 9 May (Part 1)

To promote ButterflyCircle (BC) and butterfly photography, Mark, a young and enthusiastic member of BC organized an outing at the Butterfly Lodge on 9 May. Some of us also helped out in clarifying doubts raised by the participants. A group picture can be found here and here.

Around 1 pm, our prolific butterfly discoverer and photographer Sunny packed four of us (me, JZs, Mark and Bobby) in his car, travelling to Bukit Batok for a quick and simple lunch. At about 2 pm we reached this grassland where some of us did a biodiversity survey about two years back.

This place is full of Bidens pilosa (Family : Asteraceae). Like other members of this family, the capitulum of Bidens pilosa consists of two types of flowers : the white petal-like ray florets and the small tube-like orange florets that are clustered together making a disc shape in the middle.

The shape of each achene is like a harpoon with two awns at the top.

The seeds are so light that they can be dispersed and spread very fast and far by the wind. This explains why we saw so many Bidens pilosa.

I wonder if this bee, an Apis species would give a good fight with the white lurking spider if it was looking in the right direction. Photographing bees feeding on flowers proved to be as challenging as shooting butterflies. They usually don’t keep still while feeding. I noticed this small brown beetle (?) landing on a white ray floret and it moved forward to the dense cluster of orange florets.This looks like a juvenile cricket. It stayed quite still on the flowers, giving me ample time to overcome the breeze for this shot. It was my first encounter with this black and orange hoverfly species. Though it was busy visiting the Bidens flowers and feeding on the nectar voraciously, it remained very alert. Based on my field observations, Danaus melanippus hegesippus (Black Veined Tiger) is less common than the Danaus chrysippus chrysippus (Plain Tiger) in Singapore. The white discal streaks and the white cell on the underside hindwing distinguish this species from another lookalike species Danaus genutia genutia (Common Tiger) . This particular shot is a male as the sex brand can be seen along vein 3 below the cell. This unknown Swift skipper (Family : Hesperiidae ) also came down to show off its long proboscis. I will post a few more butterfly shots in part 2 of this blog.
Before we left this grassland, another bee, bigger then the previous one was demonstrating its various acrobatic stunts on the flower head, giving me no chance of a better shot.

Why did so many different insects love to visit these flowers ?

So, if you want some insect activities to liven up your gardens, you should know what plant to grow.


  1. Wow, this is fascinating! Such wonders await those who pay closer attention to our humble plants. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Ria, thanks for your comment. Bidens pilosa sure attract lots of insects. We can find this wild plant at Ubin's Butterfly Hill also.