Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Nawab

Every time I see a Plain Nawab (Polyura hebe) caterpillar, I just have to take photo of it, even though I already have hundreds of similar shots. I am not sure if it is because I am fascinated by the Dragon-like armoured head, the way it parks itself on the 'landing pad' it meticulously weaved together or the light green crescent patterns along its abdomen. Probably all of the above ;-) So last week when I visited Mt Faber Park and saw a few early instar Plain Nawab caterpillars, instinctively I stop and took a few shots of them.

The early instar of the Plain Nawab caterpillar unlike that of the later instar, has black color head (instead of green) and green body without any patterns.

As I was about to move on, I noticed one of the caterpillars has a slight reddish horns.
Interesting ! Again without thinking I took a few more shots and continued my journey up the steps along the Marang Trail.

Last night, when I was sorting through my photos, deciding which to delete and which to keep, I noticed there is something different about the 'red-head' Plain Nawab caterpillar from Mt Faber.

It is NOT a Plain Nawab caterpillar! It is the caterpillar of the Blue Nawab (Polyura schreiber).


So what is the big deal you ask? First, the Blue Nawab caterpillar is uncommon. More important is the fact that this one is found feeding on Saga (Adenanthera pavonina) instead of its normal food plant - Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum). This validates BIG's 2001 finding that Adenanthera pavonina is an alternative host plant for Blue Nawab.

Three cheers for BIG !!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This is the season for moth!

This is definitely the season for moths. Over the last few days I have received numerous sms and pm from friends and GCS members asking if I want to adopt moth caterpillars which are defoliating their plants. Yesterday, I spotted 2 hawk moth caterpillars during my morning walk at Clementi Woods Park. Since I am left with 1 skipper caterpillars under my care, this is the perfect time to switch over to rearing moth caterpillars.

I am now rearing 4 hawk moth caterpillars and another very interesting moth caterpillar which I have no idea what it is.

Below are two of the hawk moth caterpillars I am rearing:

1. Psilogramma menephron : It has just changed color and will go into pre-pupa stage very soon.

2. Enpinanga borneensis : It is in its last instar and will go into pre-pupa stage in the next 2 to 3 days.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A green Duffer pupa !

The other Duffer caterpillar (#C16b) pupated a few days ago and it is green in color!
The Duffer caterpillars obviously can sense the color of their surroundings and adapt to it.
#C7 Autumn Leaf emerged after 9 days of pupation period. Below is a photo showing it drying its wings.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The King has arrived!

The Palm King eclosed today. Unfortunately I have an appointment in the morning so I could not photograph the eclosion :-( At 10:30am, I received an sms from my family member saying the King is out.

Later in the afternoon I released it back where I found the caterpillar. Hopefully I will find more Palm King caterpillars at the same place in the near future.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Duffer has pupated!

One of the caterpillars of the Great Duffer (#C16a) has pupated while the other one (#C16b) think it is not time yet and decided to continue eating. #C16b is now about 83mm long!
The pupa of the Great Duffer is pink in color, the same shape but slightly fatter than the pupa of the Palm King (see photo below).

The photo below shows a closeup view of the Great Duffer caterpillar feeding. Isn't it cute ? ;-)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Return of the Yellow Glassy Tiger ?

On March 19th, my friend Laurence Leong spotted a Yellow Glassy Tiger (Parantica aspasia aspasia) in Singapore ! Yellow Glassy Tiger is known to be extinct from Singapore. Is this a one off appearance or is Yellow Glassy Tiger making a come back ? Read about it at BIG's blog.

Note : The above photo is not taken in Singapore. Laurence's photo of the Yellow Glassy Tiger in Singapore is here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The King has pupated !

The Palm King caterpillar (#C17) pupated yesterday. The caterpillar was light pinkish brown and it changed to green color just before it pupate. The pupa is smooth and green in color (photo below).

Earlier this month, I found 4 hairy caterpillars feeding on bamboo leaves.
The caterpillars (C#16) are covered with long pale hairs and have a pair of anal processes. No horns were present on the head. I am quite sure they are caterpillars from the genus Discophora, most likely the caterpillars of D. timora (The Great Duffer).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A chance encounter with Selene - the goddess of the moon

I was at Fraser's Hill with a few friends last week. I have been there many times but everytime I go there I see something new. The highlight of this trip was the sighting of the extremely rare lunar moth Actias selene (picture below)the morning before we return to Singapore !

The moths at Fraser's Hill are out of this world ! They are colourful, come in all shapes and sizes and some looks like creatures from science fiction. I will write more about my adventure at Fraser's Hill another day. Let me give an update on the 2 caterpillars : #C8 and #C9.

#C8 has grown quite a bit, it is now about 10mm long (picture below).

#C9 unfortunately did not make it ;-( It ate some leaf and died after 3 days.

On a brighter note, this is the season for caterpillars. Over the last two weeks I have seen quite a number of caterpillars at our urban parks. These are a few 0f the more interesting ones :

1. Bibasis harisa (Orange Awlet)

2. Euthalia aconthea (The Baron) and Polyura hebe (Plain Nawab)
Both caterpillars were in the last instar and were about to transform to pupae.

3. Amathusia phidippus (Palm King)
This is a gem of a find ! It (#C17) it big (75mm) and hairy and does not look like a typical butterfly caterpillar at all. Simon and I have been looking for this caterpillar for a long time and we finally found it on an unlikely host plant - the Fish Tail Palm (Caryota mitis) ! The principle larva host plant for this butterfly is the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). While other palms such as oil and nipah palm have been reported as alternate host plants, Fish Tail Palm could be a new record !