Friday, December 27, 2013

Pupa of a Crow Butterfly- End to the butterfly series

Today I end this series on butterflies, with this shining pupa of a Common Crow (Euploea core) I spotted recently. I managed to present 41 butterflies that visited my garden in the month of October. There were many more, that came by, but because of their constant flight I could never photograph many of them. Nevertheless, this photographic census was quite a learning experience for me. I never imagined I would end up with 41 different butterflies, in a month. There are many butterflies that are seasonal and arrive to our place during different months of the year.
It is said that the number of butterflies, indicate the health of an ecosystem. An annual census like this will probably give me an indication of the direction our  eco-system is heading into. Now that I am sailing, a small breathing time for my blog. I will be back in a few months, with more posts and I hope you will all enjoy as I do posting them. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Brown King Crow

Merry Christmas to all readers and I hope you all are having the best of the season. The Forty first butterfly in the 'Butterfly from my garden' series is the 'Brown King Crow' ( Euploea klugii )

This is also the 300th post on this blog. The first post was on 10th Nov. 2006 and it has been 7 years, 1 month and 15 days since I began blogging here. Just like the title of the first post 'Snails pace' the 300 posts indeed have come at a snails pace. 
This butterfly visits us at noon and stays till the the evening. Loves the marigold flowers and stays quite steadily perched on flowers even in heavy winds. I will not take too much of your Christmas time with today's post. Have a lovely day.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Common Palmfly

The fortieth butterfly in the 'butterfly from my garden' series is the Common Palmfly ( Elymnias hypermnestra ). I see this butterfly everyday perched on the ornamental palms of our garden. This photograph though was clicked when it landed inside our house one day. 

The only time I see its uppersides are when it is in flight, else it always sits with its wings folded. The female mimics the striped tiger. This butterfly belongs to the Nymphalids family ( remember from previous post, that there are five major butterfly families). The Nymphalids is a large group and occurs in almost all shapes and colours. Males of this family are pretty quarrelsome and can be seen policing their territory. The first pair of legs in these butterflies have brush-like dense tufts, but being imperfectly developed and clawless, these legs are not used for perching and walking. This family also has many sub-families and like the males of these family, the taxonomists themselves keep quarreling about the exact status of these sub-families. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tricoloured Pied Flat

The thirty-ninth butterfly in the 'butterflies from my garden' series is the Tricoloured Pied Flat ( Coladenia indrani

Above is the underside of the butterfly.

Of the different flowers in our garden, the butterflies give the Roses, gladioli, dahlias, chrysanthemums and lilies a complete miss. They prefer the ixora's , cockscomb, marigolds and the plethora of weeds that exist.
A few also visit Curry plants, lime plant and false Ashoka tree.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lime Butterfly

The thirty eight butterfly from my garden is the Lime Butterfly ( Papilio demoleus ), this is a very common Indian butterfly.

It visits our garden at noon, and seems to enjoy good sunshine. They love to mud puddle, and I had blogged about them many years ago, when I spotted them in Bangalore mud puddling.
Like their name suggests, they lay their eggs of citrus plants and are known to migrate. Since the butterfly visits us only during sunny days, there was more than adequate light available to photograph them- evident from the washed out flowers and leaves in the above photograph. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Common Wanderer

If you see the butterfly featured on October 7th, The Dark Wanderer , you will see a striking resemblance to today's butterfly- The Common Wanderer ( Pereronia valeria )

Both the male and the female Common Wanderer are featured in the photograph. The female is perched on the flower, while the male, although appears perched is actually in flight.
Both these butterflies had come to our Ixora plant and it was a pleasure watching the male trying to impress upon the female, with his acrobatic flying tricks. It indeed had quite some tricks up it butterfly sleeves.

Like I mentioned above, the Common wanderer, looks similar to the Dark Wanderer in field. The male Dark Wanderer had broad wing margins, which are often unspotted, when compared to the Common Wanderer.
The female mimics the Blue Tiger. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Common Leopard.

When I decided to take a photographic butterfly census of my garden, never in my wildest dreams had I imagined to count so many butterflies. I was expecting about fifteen species and the tally today is thirty six.
Today's Special is Common Leopard ( Phalanta phalantha ) .

Not only do the mammals have a leopard and a tiger, the butterflies their's too.

This is a common Indian restless butterfly, which is territorial and pugnacious . Flies very swiftly and found of flowers. This was one of the easiest photograph to click. I was sitting out in the porch, with my beloved, when she noticed an "orange butterfly". Another one for the count she said. Fortunately my camera was besides me. Without moving an inch on my butt, I managed to get this lovely flying beauty.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Common Jay

The thirty fifth butterfly in the series is the Common Jay ( Graphium doson ). The butterfly is on constant flight and despite all my patience, I could not find it perched steady , even for a fleeting moment. 

Like all other butterflies, the Common Jay too needs minerals. It gets its minerals from damp soil or animal urine. The males use a filter feeding technique to get their minerals from soil. It sucks water, with its long proboscis,  from which minerals like sodium is extracted. It constantly pumps water through its body and expels the surplus from its anus. This expelled water is used to further dissolve minerals in the ground and is re-ingested.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mottled Emigrant

The thirty fourth butterfly in the series " Butterfly from my garden" is the Mottled Emigrant ( Catopsilia pyranthe )

The butterfly is called an Emigrant, because of its strong tendency to migrate. These butterflies deposit  their eggs on plants, which the caterpillar will eventually feed. The butterfly chooses such a plant by 'tasting' them with her feet. Spines on the females feet, pierce the leaf surface and release tiny quantity of chemicals. These chemicals then aid the butterfly to identify its food plant.
The cassia plants are the emigrants favourite plant.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Grey Pansy

After all the confusion with the Bushbrowns, it is time to move back into some stable ground. The thirtythird, butterfly in the series- "Butterflies from my Garden" is the Grey Pansy ( Junonia atlites )

It visits us at noon,after 1PM. The butterfly is common in areas of heavy rainfall. It prefers areas around freshwater marshes and paddy fields. Keeps a large distance from people and quite alert to any disturbances around.   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dark Branded Bushbrown

Another Bushbrown to add to all the confusion among bushbrowns. The third Bushbrown featured today is probably the Dark-Branded Bushbrown (Mycalesis mineus).

 With varying forms, with changing seasons, the bushbrowns are not identity friendly to me atleast.  So as I type this post, thoughts are running in my mind, whether to post this as a Dark Branded Bushbrown or to just keep quite, taking cue from Peter Smetacek, who wrote me "... but one really needs the specimens to open one's mouth further... ". Nevertheless, sharing it with you. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Long-Brand Bushbrown

This is allegedly a Long-Brand Bushbrown ( Mycalesis visala). You can read my previous post to know why I say 'allegedly'.

All this confusion about bushbrown species makes photographing butterflies much more action packed. I cannot take it for granted that I have already photographed a particular species, it just may turn out to be a new one all together.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Common Bushbrown

The thirtieth species from my garden is the Common Bushbrown, ( Mycalesis perseus )

We have many of these hanging around the bamboo grove and the compost pit. They are easily recognisable as a group, all being some shade of brown on both wing surfaces, and marked with a series of conspicuous ocelli, and a single straight median line across the underside of both wings.
The difficult part is to identify the exact species. I was so flummoxed by this problem, that I decided to write to the person who inspired the series in the first place- Peter Smetacek himself.
The genial Peter, got back to me immediately and wrote " ...I usually do not put names to these. They need to be dissected for certain identification. In the case of the bushbrown, one needs to see the brands (areas of specialized scales) between the forewing and hindwing, in the region of overlap.... "

This fact only reinforced what I knew, photographs alone cannot be an infallible taxonomy tool; the good 'ol running behind and catching a butterfly too counts. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rice Swift

Like the name suggests, the Rice Swift ( Borbo cinnara ) is mostly found where rice is cultivated. This is again a small butterfly and I mostly spotted it when it was on flight.

One note of caution, many butterfly orders like this Borbo, cannot be truly identified just from photographs. They need a microscopic examination to correctly ascertain the right species. Hence we can assume it to be a rice swift or just consider it a representative sample of the Borbo.
The Rice Swift, prefers sunny open places, where it flies close to the ground, often settling down on plants to bask or feed on flowers. Flight is swift and rapid. Active from morning to late afternoon.