Monday, January 11, 2010

Passiflora suberosa and Tawny Coster @Temasek Junior College

Look out for this vine climbing along the fence facing the Bedok South Avenue 1 at the PE Department of Temasek Junior College. This is Passiflora suberosa, a perennial vine which uses its tightly coiled tendrils to extend its territory.

According to the guide book "1001 Garden Plants in Singapore " and NPark FloraWeb , this species exists in two forms of leaf ; tri-lobed leaf and simple-leaf. Yes, I did see both forms there but I thought the tri-lobed leaf form is another climber. I will insert a picture here next time.

The light yellow, small and inconspicuous crown-like flowers are beautiful if we take a closer look.

Its fruits look like oval-shaped berries which are quite small and green initially, ripening to dark purplish black and containing numerous seeds. Ok, what is so special about this climber ?

This is an alternative larval host plant of our new immigrant, Tawny Coster ( Acraea violae, 斑珍蝶). At least a dozen of them were seen fluttering along the fence on 9 Jan.

Near the volleyball court, KY, Jonathan and I noticed some Keranga Ants or Weaver Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) transporting a dead female Tawny Coster. I wonder if she was attacked by the ants while eclosing from its pupa or during mating as we spotted a male was being pushed away from a group of red waver ants a few wire grids away.

Jonathan got a shot using my T180 lens.

I went back to the same location after lunch. Now there were fewer ants transporting the two poor Tawny Costers. A few grids away, I saw two weaver ants working very hard moving this poor Tawny Coster along the fence. I wonder how these ants could drag such a mammoth object (compared to their size) and manoeuvre themselves so skillfully on the fence. After a while, I noticed that one of the ants giving up, leaving behind this persistent guy pushing and dragging the giant by itself. The ant must be tired by now and it stopped moving. From the background of this shot, you should be able to guess that the ant in fact had moved quite some distance, from above my eye level to below my eye level.
I surveyed the fence and found another pupa. I hope the adult from this pupa will eclose successfully and avoid the same misfortune.

Did the lonely ant continue pushing and dragging the dead butterfly to its nest ? I shall let the picture answer this question (note : throughout the whole duration that I stood there and observed, I did not interfere the ants at all)


  1. Wow, you've certainly motivated me to take a closer look at the plants growing on our fences! Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos and information!

  2. Ria, thanks for your comments.
    Yes, we need to look closely at the climbers growing on our fences. Another example I know is the larval host plant of Common Tiger (Danaus genutia genutia) butterfly, Cynanchum ovalifolium not very common plant, growing on fences in town area.

  3. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for this post!

    I've been searching for the Tawny Coster's hostplants for some time now!