Friday, April 20, 2012

From Lornie Trail To Rifle Range Part 1

It was a hot and sunny Saturday morning (7 Apr). I set off early to Lornie Trail. After a morning thunderstorm and a very wet Easter holiday on 6 Apr, the forest floor was exceptionally muddy.

As usual, I didn't encounter many critters along the quiet trail until I reached my  favourite spot. The dry and ripened Singapore Rhododendron ((Melastoma malabathricum) fruits attracted quite a few butterfly species, one of which was the Lance Sergeant (Athyma pravara helma).
There were at least half a dozen of them gliding and feeding on one particular Singapore Rhododendron shrub. They tend to flap their wings while feeding -patience and timing was crucial in snapping this blue-sky shot.
They were busy feeding and hardly perched with a clear open winged pose. However, there were moments they rested on a foliage. Unfortunately, the perch was a bit too high for me to get a better shot.
Just like a few other look-alikes Sailor and Sergeant butterflies, Lance Sergeant displays a gliding flight pattern. Occasionally, they rest with both wings folded. 
A forest denizen, Lance Sergeant can be identified quite easily by the presence of a narrow and continuous cell streak which becomes broader and shaped  like an egg at both ends.The streak runs across its thorax on the upperside of the forewings. Its larvae feed on some Uncaria plants and its life history has been documented by a ButterflyCircle's member (see here).       
This is Ypthima horsfieldi humei which looks very similar to Common Five Ring (Ypthima baldus newboldi)  except perhaps the middle two ocelli on the hindwings are smaller and further apart then that of the Common Five Ring.
It has the tendency to flap its wings when perching or feeding - this was one such moment when I was faster than its speed of flapping. 
The Singapore Rhododendron is a very common shrub in the forests, wastelands or even some town parks -  a very important plant for butterflies (see here). So, next time if you see a Melastoma shrub blooming or fruiting, stop for a moment and  you may find some interesting critters on the plant.   

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