Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rich Biodiversity @ Temasek Junior College - Part 1

Situating along Bedok South Road in the eastern part of Singapore, Temasek Junior College (TJC) is one of the largest and top education institutions for Year 9 to Year 12 students. A few months ago, I planted a seedling of Bidens pilosa (or perhaps B. alba) near the basketball court. Under the good care of uncle Neo, one of the cleaning contractor's staff, the plants are flourishing. Today a few clusters of the plants together with other herbs maintained by uncle Neo are doing very well, attracting many butterflies and other fauna species.

This beautiful butterfly, Tawny Coster (Acraea violae , 斑珍蝶) will thrill you with its brightly-coloured wing patterns when they were fluttering elegantly and feeding on the Bidens flower heads. Tawny Coster tends to open the wings fully like this when feeding. This pristine male specimen was intoxicated by the rich nectar in the many small flowers of Bidens . It stayed at this position for a while even though it was swaying in the wind left and right. However, with patience I was still able to get a decent shot like this. Here is an excellent account of how this migrant came and thrived here. You will definitely love the colours of this male Blue Pansy (Junonia orithya wallacei). Though a bit tattered the brilliantly-coloured wings still enticed me to take a few shots of it whenever it settled or perched on a leaf. Striped Albatross (Appias libythea olferna, 利比尖粉蝶) is a rather common butterfly which is fast on the wings. Striped Albatross is sexually dimorphic (male and female look different). So in the following two shots, can you tell which is male and female ? When they were feeding on flowers, photographers would always love to capture their beauty.
It was a pleasant surprise when KY showed me a brown Lycaenid that he had just shot and had not seen before in the college (Yes, he has been very diligently keeping track of the number of species he spotted). I was lucky to see this Centaur Oakblue (Arhopala centaurus nakula, 银链嬈灰蝶) still feeding on the flowers. A tiny and inconspicuous butterfly not bigger than a 10-cent coin, Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis lampa, 毛眼灰蝶) was abundant on a few occasions when I was there. I hope to spot another similar species next time.Apart from butterfly species (there were a lot more species that I was not able to shoot), other small little beauties also visited the college. Here is a small and cute phytophagous Ladybug beetle (Epilachna indica) foraging on a leaf. Of course, the plants and insects here already formed an ecosystem and the food web is one of the characteristics in any ecosystem. Here is a shot when a honey bee became the meal of a Crab Spider and some small flies might have gained some advantage as well.
There were quite a number of carpenter bees (Xylocopa confusa ) both male and female, buzzing around. Of course the female were always very diligently collecting nectar from flower to flower while the male just buzzing and hovering and "doing nothing". This shot below reveals the nice bluish and shining wings which I have not noticed before.

Remember, though these carpenter bees look big and scary, they are really harmless critters so long as you leave them alone - you are unlikely to get stunk by them.With its rich diversity of fauna and flora species, TJC has the potential to develop itself into a Garden Junior College. As Singapore is launching The Singapore Index on Cities' Biodiversity , I feel that each school can play a part in observing and recording the fauna and flora species in the school compound - creating an awareness of the importance of biodiversity amongst students. Who knows, you may record something new.

In Part 2 (at the moment I cannot tell when I will publish it), I will probably feature some flora and other insect species including other butterfly species that KY or I will shoot in our future surveys.


  1. The crab spider looks interesting. Can't figure out the orientation though... what's the white balloon like thing on the spider? Is that the abdomen?


  2. Hi Desmond
    Thanks for dropping by here. Yes, it does look like the abdomen.