Thursday, February 22, 2018

Butterflies Galore Again

Our weather conditions these past few days are unexpected, not to many's liking. Last week we were still getting some cold nights and colder easterly winds. By colder i just mean the temperatures are 25C-28°C. For us these temps are already cold because we are accustomed to very hot temperatures during our dry season, everything above 33°C! The sudden change happened in one night, 27°C jumping to 33°C. The sky suddenly became cloudless and it already got uncomfortable outside even just at 8:00 in the morning. Huh!

So last Friday i went home early, Chinese New Year holiday. That means i can be out for butterflies early the next 2 days. I made sure to have coffee and one little bread at 6:00 a.m. to see the butterflies when they are not ready yet for flying, or the water vapor in the air still hinders their wings for easy movement. But conditions really changed, because even at this early their wings are already dry! That makes photographing them very difficult! They did not allow me to come nearer.

But of course, that will not stop me from chasing them, or maybe even just observe. However, i realized they are already very few, so i just content on whatever is available, even if my previous files are already filled with them. So here are some of them, in the group called the BLUES in Lycaenidae, Lycaeninae, Polyommatini.



 TINY GRASS BLUE or GAIKA BLUE 
Zizula hylax pygmaea Snellen 1876
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini
 

Please excuse me for putting a lot of them above, as they really are plenty roaming among the small grasses and weeds. These weeds are the most resistant to dry conditions, so they can raise a lot of the Tiny Grass Blues, Zizula hylax pygmaea. The species connotes their very small size, that is, length of their wings and even the length is less than one centimeter. It might be a challenge to follow them as they don't easily land on a leaf again after leaving one. And of course their size always challenges my already not so perfect vision.

The Lesser Grass Blue, Zizula otis oriens,  is also a small one but bigger than the Tiny Grass Blue. They have the same habitat and sometimes share a host plant, so seeing one will also lead you to the other. Although this is not as plenty as the first in one time, suggesting that they don't share all host plants. So far i have only seen it in one host plant in contrast with the first that i've seen in at least 3 host plants. 


 GRAM BLUE

Euchrysops cnejus cnejus Fabricius 1798 

Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

GRAM BLUE (female)
Euchrysops cnejus cnejus Fabricius 1798 
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

 GRAM BLUE (male)
Euchrysops cnejus cnejus Fabricius 1798 
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

COMMON CERULEAN 
Jamides celeno lydanus Fruhstorfer 1910
(Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

DARK CERULEAN

Jamides bochus pulchrior Grose-Smith 1895 
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini


 FORGET-ME-NOT 

Catochrysops strabo luzonensis Tite 1959
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini


You might also smile at their names, Forget-me-not and Silver Forget-me-not. The authors of those names are not the same and the latter might be funny, naming the latter discovery based from the first. They might not be forgotten but they are very difficult to differentiate from each other. Even if i already know how to distinguish the differences, i am still not confident that i will be correct everytime.

 SILVER FORGET-ME-NOT 

Catochrysops panormus exiguus Distant 1886
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini


 SILVER FORGET-ME-NOT 

Catochrysops panormus exiguus Distant 1886
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini









Thursday, February 15, 2018

Blooms in February 2018

I have again missed posting for GBBD last month.  It is okay, as those blooming then are still blooming today. No worries. That is the beauty of not having snow or cold front that might suddenly  or inadvertently destroy the plants. Ours will remain there as long as they have not reached their full maturity, true for annuals. And the perennials will still be there for years! I don't know if that is boring, but these are good for not so diligent gardeners like me.


These are late bloomers for the rainy season, as they will be reaching the dry season before they finally succumb to the strong very hot climate.  They are introduced species and i suppose they (above and below) belong to the Justicia family or shrimp plants. Those showy colorful parts are modified leaves called bracts, while the real flowers are colored yellow.


 Those yellow parts are actually the real flowers. I suppose the red bracts could either be for attraction to pollinators or for physical protection too.

 when plenty and becoming unrully they are not very beautiful, seemingly disorganized

Pentas lanceolata  is a sure attraction for butterflies especially for this Scarlet Mormon. It comes to the garden specifically only to eat from this red blooms.

Not many butterflies love the bougainvillea blooms, i suppose because of that long tube-like structure supporting the flower. The butterfly proboscis has to be long and steady to reach the inner portion of the flower which has the nectar.  Again, like the previous photos, those showy leaves are the bracts, or modified leaves. 

This is red plumbago, Plumbago indica. The spikes are unruly too as they are born at the tip of long pliant stems. But when groomed together in a common area, they are also attractive and present a different arrangement on their own. However, i haven't seen any butterfly alighting on them.

You might say we only have the reds and the orange, but we also have the yellows and the light greens. Above is locally called akapulco, Cassia alata. It becomes a small short tree, but when pruned back before the rainy season they produce short branches like this. They are favorites of bees and butterflies. It is even a host for at least two of our pierid butterflies, the Mottled Emigrant and a yellow. 
 Above is the inflorescense of the variegated Alternanthera. It also gets too tall for soft stems, so they just fell down to the sides when there is nothing rigid to lean on to. We just cut and throw them away. 

 This is a new plantlet born at the end of a stolon of the spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum. It is called spider plant because of the proliferation of those stem-like growths born at the tips. They are left dangling from the main plant so look sort of chandelier-like. It is nice when planted in a hanging basket.

It belongs to the lily family, and the dainty flowers are so lovely just like the lilies. The long hanging anthers with the elongated stamens are so dainty too.

 Above might not be considered ornamental plant. It however is a good feed for ruminants being proteinaceous. The long spikes of pocket bracts have the seeds inside. They are nice looking when starting to dry and become brown.

 I personally prefer it at the above stage or maturity, when they are starting to dry but there are still some immature green ones. 

The whole plant at the still green maturing stage. I just observed our common lycaenid ovipositing on it. That will make it a favored plant for me from now on, Flemingia strobilifera. 



Monday, February 5, 2018

Gardening for Butterflies III

Gardening for Butterflies Part III

The first 2 parts in case you missed them: Part I, Part II

1.  Vitex negundo (lagundi)

Lagundi is a medicinal bushy tree whose leaf concoction is famous as cough remedies. In fact a local pharmaceutical company has been reaping gains in capsulizing its leaves and going into the modern pharmaceutical route. I also use the capsules because i don't like the scent and taste of the boiled leaves like the traditional folks do. Usually, it is good for allergic cough or bronchial asthma as is written in the label prescription.

It was just lately that i realized some butterflies love to nectar on its very small flowers. In the vacant lots near our area they are cut back so as to allow grasses to grow for cattle grazing. But this one tree was left alone, so the cows can be tethered on its already strong trunk. So i see lots of insects and butterflies roaming around it. There was even a hawkmoth having it as its host plant.

a skipper nectaring on lagundi flowers

the branch inflorescence of lagundi

another butterfly i can't identify

Great Eggfly, Hypolimnas bolina philippense


the leaves of lagundi

2. Clausena sp. (malarayap)

Clausena sp. is a cousin of the curry tree, also in the Rutaceae Family where the citrus species belong. The leaves also has the mild aroma, and is used by traditional folks in relieving some ailments. It is locally called "malarayap" because the smell is like that of "dayap" or lime. I find many butterflies roaming and nectaring on those white flowers. The tigers specially love them. However, our tree here is a bit tall of maybe 8 meters that limits me to take photos of butterflies there on top. 



The fruits starts from green and later becomes whitish when mature. They don't get orange or red when ripe, but just fell off the tree producing lots of seedlings around it when the rains come.  The young small plants are favorite host plants by the Common Mormon. 

young fruits of Clausena sp. 


a branch of flowering Clausena sp.

 3. Cosmos bipinnatus (cosmos)


The common cosmos in our area are the orange and yellow. I just got this red from a friend in the Visayas. It is loved by butterflies in her garden, but in our case the butterflies are not seen on them, maybe because i only go home on weekends and i have very limited observation period. Besides, maybe there are many preferred nectaring plants in our area that limits going to this cosmos. But addition of this bright reddish-pink color in the garden definitely adds charm to the garden.

It is a short-day plant, so my planting it almost at the end of the year obliged them to bloom while still very small, so they were not able to grow vegetatively before reproduction. I will be planting them earlier next year as the rainy season arrives to allow them grow taller before the onset of blooms.



4. Vigna unguiculata, V. unguiculata ssp sesquipedalis (cowpea and stringbeans)

Vigna is a vegetable, planting it in the vicinity of the garden brings not only food for humans but also food for butterflies. I noticed many lycaenids nectaring on them, and it even hosts the Gram Blue larvae. A few square meters growing this produces hundreds of lycaenids in the vicinity. I really enjoy taking lots of photos of butterflies from these plants.

Both the short fruited cowpea and the long string beans have the same effects on lycaenids.









5. Urena lobata (our local term for this in my place is kulutan)

Urena lobata is just actually a weed in fallowed areas. They have strong roots and difficult to uproot by hands. They are normally growing lower than 1 meter. Those pink flowers are just around 1 cm in diameter. One will only appreciate the flowers when shot in macro, because of their size and only opens in one day. The small butterflies and skippers love nectaring on them too.

 


6. Wedelia trilobata (Singapore daisy)

These are just growing as weeds in our sidewalk, not even protected from any animals tethered in the area. Maybe they just escaped domestic plantings, as they are a bit invasive. The lycaenids are the normal butterflies seen nectaring on them, as well as occasional grass yellows,  skippers, Sailers, and Typical Sailers. 

left is a Tiny Grass Blue, Zizula hylax pygmaea and 
at right is a Gram Blue, Euchrysops cnejus cnejus 

a Grass Yellow on Wedelia

luscious growth of undisturbed Wedelia trilobata

7. Noid 

Sorry about this as i still canot find its ID. Eventualy when i find it or someone can tell me what it is, i will update the information. Thank you. 

It has always been with us for the longest time. Due to its small size, it is not particularly obvious to us and just considered weeds. However, small butterflies love nectaring on them.  

 

Lesser Grass Blue  Zizina otis oriens


8. Bidens alba

I just added the identity of this weed here, as i just asked someone in Singapore who just posted it. It has been found to be invading vacant spaces in many places here. In our area i observed it to be just there for the last couple of years, growing along street sides and marginal areas. The flowers are lovely, but it maybe colonizing areas and conquering the endemic species. I see some butterflies on them, but not as plenty as in the endemic species. 

I already know its identity, Bidens alba. My friend said it was brought by the Japanese here during the war as they eat the young leaves. Maybe it started somewhere and being invasive it is now in our property easily conquering most areas. It is also called Spanish needles, pitchfork weed, etc. It is true that the young shoots and leaves can be eaten as vegetables, as well as the petals. A reference said it saves the butterfly population in America because of its good production of nectar.




  
 a lycaenid, Lime Blue Chilades lajus athena