Sunday, January 20, 2008

Calling Green Baron !!

Last week I was browsing a local plant forum when I came acorss a post with the above subject line. I knew immediately I will have another 'baby' in my nursery. In this case it is a caterpillar which I last reared in 2oo1 ! It is the caterpillar of a butterfly by the name of The Baron (Euthalia aconthea).

I will never forget when I first saw this lovely caterpillar at Min Xin Primary school on 23rd Jun 2001. Simon and I were there to advice the school on how to attract more butterflies to the school's garden when I noticed a mango (Mangifera indica) sapling with leaves showing tell tale sign of being eaten by caterpillars. I look at the under side of the eaten leaves but could not find any caterpillar. Just when I was about to give up, I noticed something moving on one of the leaves. On closer examination, I saw a caterpillar web like projections and patterns mimicking the veins of the mango ! The camofludge was so good that it would fool all except those who know what they are looking for.

In additon to Mango, the caterpillar of The Baron also feeds on the leaves of Cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale).

In 2001, I was using a 1.3MP Sony Cybershot DSC-S30 , a top of the line digital camera at that time. Even though it has only 1.3MP, it takes great macro photos and was a god send for recording early stages of butterflies. The photo on the top right was taken with the DSC-30.

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