Sunday, December 21, 2008

Three hawkmoth caterpillars

I am very happy today because I have acquired 2 new hawkmoth caterpillars.

1. Macroglossum sitiene on Paederia foetida
I found an egg and an early instar caterpillar on a Paederia foetida growing on a railing along a pedestrian walkway. The is the caterpillar of the 'HummingBird' hawkmoth that we usually see during dusk. It has visited my garden many times but I still have not managed to photograph it :-(

2nd instar caterpillar and egg

P. foetida growing on railing

2. Pergesa acteus hawkmoth caterpillar feeding on Caladium bicolor
A friend sms me today asking if I want a caterpillar which is defoliating her Caladium. I went over and saw this lovely caterpillar finishing up the last leaf of my friends red Caladium.
I took the caterpillar back and both of us are very happy - a win-win situation !

3. Enpinanga borneensis feeding on Dillenia suffruticosa aka Simpoh Air
This is a very common hawkmoth around where I stay. The three caterpillars below are at different stages. The brownish one is about to transform into a pupa, the green one on the top right is most likely in the 4th or 5th instar while the thin and long one at the bottom is most likely in the 2nd or 3rd instar.

Friday, December 12, 2008

More caterpillars

Here are a few of the caterpillars I am rearing ..

1. Arhopala pseudocentaurus - Centaur Oakblue
I found this caterpillar on a Eugenia grandis (aka Jambu Laut or See Apple) tree along a road. The caterpillar was tended by a colony of "Kerengga" ants (Oecophylla smaragdina).
The adult emerged 8 days after the caterpillar pupated

2. I found this moth caterpillar on my Eugenia jambos ! Unfortunately it didn't make it so I have no idea what moth it is :-( I am going to keep a look out for this caterpillar on my Jambu Air tree.
3. Moth caterpillar on Ricinus communis - Castor Oil plant.
I have seen similar looking caterpillars in the past but I always ignored them because they do very little harm to my plants. Now that I am into moths, I decided to rear it to find its identity. The caterpillar builds a long narrow cone like structure and take refuge in it. Like a snail, it moves around in it and extends its body out when feeding. I managed to take a shot of it when it was feeding.
4. Drepana fulvata
I am saving the best for last. I found this interesting looking caterpillar hanging on a thread from a Rambutan tree (Nephelium lappaceum) along Neo Tiew road. This is the exact same caterpillar Simon and I found on a rmabutan tree around Upper Pierce area many years ago.
At that time we had had no idea what it was and thought it was a butterfly caterpillar.
If you think the caterpillar looks weird, wait till you see the pupa ! Read more about it here .

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

High Rise Garden

One of the questions I get asked a lot is "Will buttefly visit my garden on the X floor ?"

The answer is - It depends.

If a high rise garden is next to a tall tree, wooded area or nature park, there is a good chance that butterflies will visit the garden, that is assuming the garden has something to attract them in the first place. A case in point is my garden on the 6th floor. My apartment is located not too far from a neighbourhood park. Just a month after I moved in I get Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus) visiting my Golden Dew Drop (Duranta repens) and Kaffir Lime (Citrus hystrix) plants. It visits the Golden Dew Drop flowers for nectar and Kaffir Lime to lay eggs.

I usually just let the caterpillars feast on my Kaffir leaves. However, when there are too many caterpillars, my Mrs will pass some to her friends.

Last month I saw a Grass Yellow (Eurema sp) and Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis) in my garden. The Grass Yellow was probably attracted by flowers and the Lesser Grass Blue was laying eggs on Desmodium weed. I have no idea how such a tiny butterfly managed to fly all the way up to a garden on the 6th floor and locate its larva host plant ! In the evening sometimes I see Hummingbird Hawk Moth(Macroglossum sp) buzzing around my Sui Mei (Wrightia reliogisa) plant. Just now at about 6pm I saw an Orange Awlet (Bibasis harisa) in my garden ! It is a rare sight as this is not a common butterfly. I didn't manage to take a shot of the butterfly but this is how an Orange Awlet looks like :

So butterfly do visit high rise garden !

I have to point out that I have lots of plants (>100), flowers and tall shrubs in garden. I will be planting some larva host plants soon and we'll see if that attracts more butterflies.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Batwings and Clubtail

The Batwings and Clubtails are uncommon butterflies in Malaysia and I get excited every time I see one of these lovely papilionidae butterflies.

1. Parides (Antrophaneura) varuna (male and female) - Common Batwing.
The caterpillar of this butterfly resembles that of the Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae) and feeds on Aristolochia tagala.
2. Parides (Antrophaneura) nox (female)- Malayan Batwing.

3. Pachliopta neptunus (female)- The Yellow-bodied Clubtail
I have seen this butterfly a few times in Panti Forest in Johor but they were always too fast to photograph. On my recent trip to Cameron Highland, I found this tattered specimen flying around Tanah Rata area. I stretched out my hand hoping it would rest on my hand and it did ! I manged to take one shot with my P&S camera before it took off.