Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fraser's Hill Puddlers Part 1

Thanks Khew for inviting me and organising the trip to Fraser's Hill (from 3 - 6 Aug) for a group of us from ButterflyCircle. I must thank the drivers also - Khew, Sunny and Chng, without their transport, it is impossible for us to move around in Fraser's Hill.

Many entomologists or butterfly researchers have concluded that mostly young male butterflies engage in puddling activity to supplement their sodium intakes used as nuptial gifts during copulation (Carol and Lee, 1991). However, Freerk et. al. (2005) felt that the role played by sodium may not be the same for all species and he suggested that a better understanding of puddling behaviour can be achieved by physiological studies on sodium in the butterfly's excretory and digestive system.

We were really trilled by the number of butterflies puddling on the river banks - this is just one of the puddling sites.I shall feature all the species that I have managed to photograph in two parts.

It appeared to me that more species from the Swallowtail (Papilionidae) family love to puddle. There were at least a couple of Tailed Jays (Graphium agamemnon agamemon) came down to puddle. they flapped their forewings at a high speed the moment they landed and puddled on the ground.
The Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon luctatius) is a very fast-flying and common butterfly which can be found in Singapore parks and forests as well. We could spot them puddling on river banks, damp ground or fermented fruits along forest trails.
This is a Striped Jay (Graphium chironides malayanum) - I guess the two curved black strips on the hindwing beneath give its common name.
Red Helen (Papilio helenus helenus) is another very common and large swallowtail in Malaysia forests - I have seen this species many times in good numbers. Look at this guy, it showed us how a graceful and elegant puddling was like.
Sometimes, it would open its wings and sunbathe to absorb energy while puddling - this picture was taken in the late afternoon when the temperature started to decline.
Fourbar Swordtail (Pathysa agetes iponus) prefers highland and it is not a common species. The wings at the apical region appears to be semi-transparent. It was playing hide-and-seek with me between two puddling sites. Thankfully, at last it was kind enough to stay on the ground for quite a while waiting for me to take a few shots.
We can see the four black bars on the the upperside of the forewings.

Rajah Brook's Birdwing (Troides brookiana albescens ) is a typical example of the sexual dimorphism in terms of puddling behaviour. So far, I have not seen a female puddling while the male often congregate and puddled in a group. I tried to isolate one of them and took an open-wing shot while others puddling with wings flapping frantically.

The next 3 species are from the Nymphalidae family. The Indian Yellow Nawab (Polyura jalysus jalysus ) was intoxicated by the nutrients in the damp soil. It stayed at this position for more than 20 minutes, allowing us to take as many shots as we like.

A common species in the Malaysia forests, though the Common Nawab (Polyura athamas athamas) looks quite similar to the Indian Yellow Nawab, we can easily tell the differences.

This is a very pristine male Jewel Nawab (Polyura delphis concha ) who came down a few times to tease us before it really got intoxicated by the nutrients-rich sandy ground where he stayed quite a while for all of us to take a few shots.

In my next post, I will continue sharing more puddling butterflies from three other families.

Reference :
1. Carol, L. B., Lee A. J. (1991) Mud puddling by butterflies is not a simple matter. Ecology Entomology, 16, 123-127.
2. Freerk M., Roy, H.A.G., Maartje L., Bas J.Z. & Paul M.B. (2005) Is male puddling behaviour of tropical butterflies targeted at sodium for nuptial gifts or activity ? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 86, 345-361.


  1. Fed, I enjoyed viewing these beautiful butterfly series. All very well taken! Looking forward to your Part II :D

  2. Anthony, thanks for your kind comments.
    Will post Part II this weekend - still compiling it.