Monday, 20 March 2017

261. Euploea tulliolus dehaani (The Dwarf Crow)

Number: 261
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Danaiinae
Species: Euploea tulliolus dehaani Lucas, 1853
Common name(s): The Dwarf Crow
Photography locations: Tam Dao foothills (Vinh Phuc Prov.), Ba Vi N.P. (Hanoi), Hanoi City

Euploea tulliolus is distributed widely from the eastern part of the Southeast Asian mainland and the Malay Peninsula through the Philippines to Papua New Guinea and the eastern coast of Australia.
Subspecies dehaani ranges through Indochina, S.China, Hainan.

This wide-ranging species can be seen in a large variety of forest habitats, at different elevations.

Congregation of E. tulliolus dehaani, one individual with wings fully outstretched (Tam Dao, September 2015)


Euploea tulliolus dehaani on Bidens alba (Hanoi, February 2017)

Same individual, in flight

 E. tulliolus dehaani, female, upperside, voucher specimen from Tam Dao (900m asl)
UpF washed with an iridescent blue or violet colour that invades the white submarginal spots

Same specimen, underside
E. tulliolus is a very small Euploea species (FW longer less than 45mm)

Butterflies of Vietnam, Vol. 3: Nymphalidae: Danainae, Amathusiinae (A.L. Monastyrskii, 2011)

260. Mycalesis cf. adamsonii (The Watson's Bushbrown)

Number: 260
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Satyriinae
Species: Mycalesis cf. adamsonii Watson, 1897
Common name(s): The Watson's Bushbrown
Photography location: Ba Vi N.P. (Hanoi)

Mycalesis inopia is one of the 3 vietnamese Mycalesis (with adamsonii and inopia) in which Up of both wings don't exhibit ocelli.

Underwings of Mycalesis inopia appears to be very similar to that of M. adamsonii. Both show a broad white postdiscal band suffused with violet on both wings bearing the same arrangement of ocelli. But according to me (to be confirmed), area from base to postdical band is blackish in inopia wheras it appears somewhat brown ochraceous in adamsonii.

Identification is easy with voucher specimens: M. inopia show black Up (brown in adamsonii) and the male lacks a brand on the UpF (brand overlaid by a hair tuft in space 1b in adamsonii).

Mycalesis cf. adamsonii, Ba Vi (May 2016) - without flash

Mycalesis cf. adamsonii, Ba Vi (June 2016) - with flash

Saturday, 18 March 2017

259. Atrophaneura aidoneus aidoneus (The Lesser Batwing)

Number: 259
Family: Papilioniidae
Sub-Family: Papilioniinae
Species: Atrophaneura aidoneus aidoneus (Doubleday, 1845)
Common name(s): The Lesser Batwing
Photography location: Huu Lien Nature Reserve (Lang Son Prov.)

"Red-bodied Swallowtails" are butterflies in the Papilionidae that belong to the genera Atrophaneura (3 species in Vietnam), Byasa (8), Losaria (1) and Pachliopta (1). Many species show aposematism (“warning coloration”) and serve as models for Batesian mimicry.

The genus Atrophaneura comprises around 50 species, of which 3 are currently known to occur in Vietnam - A. zaleucus zaleucus, A. varuna astorion & A. aidoneus aidoneus
A. varuna and A. aidoneus show very similar color pattern. A. zaleucus (previously treated as subspecies of A. varuna) is unmistakable with its white patches on HW.

Atrophaneura aidoneus, male, feeding feeding in Lantana thickets adjacent to forest (Huu Lien, October 2016)

 Same specimen than above
In both sexes of  A. aidoneus the upperside HW is uniformly coloured, where in all subspecies of A. varuna the cell is obviously darker than the rest of the hindwing (Cotton & Racheli, 2006)

Upperside of 2 specimens of A. varuna astorion for comparison (Huu Lien, October 2016)

258. Arhopala birmana birmana (The Burmese Bushblue)

Number: 258
Family: Lycaeniidae
Sub-Family: Thecliinae
Species: Arhopala birmana birmana (Moore, 1883)
Common name(s): The Burmese Bushblue
Photography location: Hanoi City

I found a specimen of this species in a very unexpected area, namely the Hanoi's Botanical gardens! Probably not migrant or vagrant but adventive specimen (i.e. did not come there with its own strength). Certainly be brought in a batch of forest plants.
Arhopala birmana birmana is recorded in Myanmar, N.Thailand, Laos, Vietnam (N. & C.), S.China. Subspecies asakurae occurs in Taiwan, subsp. hiurai in Palawan (Philippines).

Arhopala birmana birmana, male, upperside, voucher specimen from Hanoi City (August 2016)
ID credit: A. Monastyrskii

Same specimen, underside

257. Curetis bulis bulis (The Bright Sunbeam)

Number: 257
Family: Lycaeniidae
Sub-Family: Curetiinae
Species: Curetis bulis bulis (Westwood, 1852)
Common name(s): The Bright Sunbeam
Photography location: Cuc Phuong N.P. (Ninh Binh Prov.)

The genus Curetis comprises of 18 known species variously distributed from India and Sri Lanka to China, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. These butterflies are known as "Sunbeams", due to the brilliant metallic coppery-red uppersides of the males, which glint in the sunshine. Females are earthy brown with large suffused white patches on the upperside, and can easily be mistaken in flight for small Pierids. The undersides of all species are silvery-white with small black dots.

Eight Curetis species are currently known in Vietnam viz. bulis, saronis, santana, tagalica, tonkina, metayei, acuta & dentata (Monastyrskii & Devyatkin, 2016), the first one being the most widespread.

Curetis bulis bulis, male, puddling on the forest floor (Cuc Phuong, July 2016)

Voucher specimen, male, upperside, from Cuc Phuong (July 2016)
Male UpF and UpH is orange with broad black borders, the orange discal area on FW not reaching vein 6, usually not extending above vein 5

Same specimen, underside

256. Mycalesis mucianus mucianus (The South China Bushbrown)

Number: 256
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Satyriinae
Species: Mycalesis mucianus mucianus Fruhstorfer, 1908
Common name(s): The South China Bushbrown
Photography location: Tam Dao foothills (Vinh Phuc Prov.)

Recently this species was known as M. zonata Matsumuza, 1909.
The nominate subsp. occurs in S.E. China, N. & C. Vietnam (to Gia Lai Prov.); the subsp. zonata, in Taiwan.

 Mycalesis mucianus, Tam Dao foothills (November 2016)
Note FW with apex truncated

Same individual, upperwings

255. Mycalesis malsara (The White-line Bushbrown)

Number: 255
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Satyriinae
Species: Mycalesis malsara Moore, [1858]
Common name(s): The White-line Bushbrown
Photography location: Ba Vi foothills (Hanoi)

Monastyrskii & Devyatkin (2016) listed 18 Mycalesis species from Vietnam viz. inopia, anaxias, adamsonii, deficiens, gotama, francisca, perseus, mineus, perseoides, intermedia, mucianus, distanti, sangaica, mnasicles, misenus, nicotia, malsara and annamitica.

Mycalesis malsara occurs in N. India, Burma, Thailand, Laos, N. & C. Vietnam.

Mycalesis malsara (December 2016, Ba Vi foothills, secondary vegetation)
Note underwings basal and discal areas more or less finely striated

Same individual, upperwings
Note the whitish discal line on UpF

Thursday, 23 February 2017

254. Arhopala eumolphus eumolphus (The Common Green Oakblue)

Number: 254
Family: Lycaeniidae
Sub-Family: Thecliinae
Species: Arhopala eumolphus eumolphus (Stoll, [1780])
Common name(s): The Common Green Oakblue
Photography location: Cuc Phuong N.P. (Ninh Binh Prov.)

Monastyrskii & Devyatkin (2016) listed 53 Arhopala species recorded in Vietnam, the great majority from the South and Central regions. Only 9 are recorded in the North: A. centaurus nakula, A. dispar dispar, A. perimuta perimuta, A. elopura dama, A. bazalus teesta, A. eumolphus eumolphus, A. birmana birmana, A. paraganesa zephyretta and A. ammonides ammonides.
Distinguishing the Arhopala species is very difficult, and best achieved by reference to keys and genitalia illustrations.

Arhopala eumolphus is one of several species in which the males are metallic green above (and the only one among the 9 species listed above). 

Arhopala eumolphus, male, Cuc Phuong (May 2016)
Members of this genus are extremely challenging to identify from field shots alone - it's often necessary to collect specimens (at least to examine upperwings)

Arhopala eumolphus, male, upperside, voucher specimen from Cuc Phuong (May 2016)

Same specimen, underside

 Arhopala eumolphus, female, underside, voucher specimen from Cuc Phuong (May 2016)

Same specimen, upperside

253. Euploea sylvester harrisii (The Double-branded Blue Crow)

Number: 253
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Danaiinae
Species: Euploea sylvester harrisii C. & R. Felder, [1865]
Common name(s): The Double-branded Blue Crow
Photography location: Cuc Phuong N.P. (Ninh Binh Prov.)

Euploea sylvester is a widespread member of the genus, occurring from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal to S. China, Indochina and the Malay Peninsula, extending south to N.E. Australia and New Caledonia. The subsp. recognized from Vietnam (and also from mainland Southeast Asia + S. China) is E. sylvester harrisi.

The male of Euploea sylvester is unmistakable, having two long parallel brands on the UpF. However in fly, it may be confused with other species having a similar size and blue gloss on the UpF e.g. E. algeaE. mulciberE. camaralzeman and E. midamus (Monastyrskii, 2011). I didn't yet manage to get images of this species in the field.

Identification of Euploea species from photos is often difficult and very risky, especially if you only got shots of underside. Some species are poorly characterized and sometimes wing pattern show significant differences from one population to another. Comparing shots taken in the field to images on the Internet can be very confusing. That's why I highly recommend to capture specimens for close examination of features and safe identification.
For key to the Vietnamese species of the genus Euploea, see Monastyrskii (2011) - reference below.

 Euploea sylvester harrisii, male, upperside - voucher specimen from Cuc Phuong (July 2016)
Note the two prominent grey brands in mid-space 1b of UpF
Up entirely blue glossed in both sexes

Same specimen, underside

Butterflies of Vietnam, Vol. 3: Nymphalidae: Danainae; Amathusiinae (A.L. Monastyrskii, 2011)

Thursday, 9 February 2017

252. Euploea mulciber mulciber (The Striped Blue Crow)

Number: 252
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Danaiinae
Species: Euploea mulciber mulciber (Cramer, [1777])
Common name(s): The Striped Blue Crow
Photography locations: Ba Vi foothills (Hanoi), Tam Dao (Vinh Puc Prov.)

According to Monastyrskii & Devyatkin (2016), 17 Euploea species are currently known in Vietnam viz. modesta, crameri, camaralzeman*, core*, orontobates, algae, swainson, doubledayi, eyndhovii, sylvester*, mulciber*, tulliolus*, phaenareta, midamus*, klugii*, eunice* & radamanthus*, of which 9 have been recorded in the North (*).

The sexually dimorphic Striped Blue Crow is one of the most common Euploea species in my habitual butt hunting grounds. Though not abundant, the adults have been observed in many locations, from pristine forest at Cuc Phuong N.P. to wastelands and urban parks. It is polyphagous and has many larval host plants in the Moraceae, Apocynaceae and Asclepiadaceae families, which explains its broad habitat tolerance (eurytopic species).

Euploea mulciber male resting on a leaf (Tam Dao, May 2016)
UpF dark brown strongly suffused with iridescent blue and with numerous white spots, UpH without submarginal white spots and with a small grey patch in cell (hidden by HW here)

The male can be distinguished from other blue Euploea species by the absence ot the sex brand on the UpF.

Euploea mulciber male nectaring (Ba Vi, December 2016)

The female is easily distinguished from other Euploea species by the numerous long streaks on HW
She appears to be the model for some mimetic Satyrines, notably Penthema darlisa and Elymnias malelas. Among the probable mimics of the males are certain Papilionids (e.g. Chilasa slateri and Ch. paradoxa) and Satyrines (e.g. Elymnias patna, E. malelas and E. casiphone(Monastyrskii, 2011).

Female sipping nectar from Chromolaena odorata flowers (Ba Vi, December 2016)
The striped HW of the female is probably what gave this species its common English name

Female, upperside, voucher specimen

Nice congregation of Euploea species puddling on a wall (mulciber and tulliolus at least + Tirumala septentrionis)

Close-up on a male E. mulciber

A 5th instar E. mulciber caterpillar
Detailed life history information is available from the following resource: ButterflyCircle Blog (courtesy of Dr. Horace Tan)

Butterflies of Vietnam, Vol. 3: Nymphalidae: Danainae, Amathusiinae (A.L. Monastyrskii, 2011)

251. Tagiades gana sangarava (The Large Snow Flat)

Number: 251
Family: Hesperiidae
Sub-Family : Pyrgiinae
Species: Tagiades gana sangarava Fruhstorfer, 1910
Common name(s): The Large Snow Flat
Photography location: Tam Dao foothills (Vinh Phuc Prov.)

Tagiades butterflies are popularly known as Snow Flats because of the pure white patches on the hindwings of many species, and the flat resting posture. The genus comprises 17 known species. According to Monastyrskii & Devyatkin (2016), 7 are currently known in Vietnam: japetus, gana, parra, litigiosa, menaka, cohaerens hybridus - the last one described from central VN in 2001.

Menaka, litigiosa, parra, hybridus and cohaerens show in both sexes large white tornal area of HW reaching space 4, unlike japetus and gana.

A very chewed up Tagiades gana (Tam Dao, mid-October 2015) - presumably a female
Despite its bad condition, it's obvious that this specimen had a very narrow white tornal area on HW (some residual white scales are still visible)

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Trip to Sa Pa in January

Let me wrap up what I have seen and shot during a butterfly-watching (and birding) short trip to Sa Pa (Lao Cai Prov., northwest Vietnam).
At the hill station (1600m asl), the weather was gloomy, so I quickly headed to Ô Quy Hô pass (2035m) separating Lao Cai and Lai Chau Provinces, in search of sunny weather. One kilometer below the pass, along National Road 4B, I stopped at a large patch of scrubs bathed in early morning sun through misty fog. There I found 2 males Heliophorus eventa and Heliophorus brahma, side by side - two Lycaenids only recorded from the extreme north of the country. And two real lifers for me. I searched the place for another male or even the female, and bumped into a Riodinid I have also never seen before: Abisara freda - another local specialty. Three new species for my records under my belt and I was really happy. Pieris erutae montana was quite common above 1500m asl, and I had also 3-4 sightings of Colias fieldi, a nice orange Pierid only recorded in Vietnam from Ha Giang and Lao Cai Prov..
Below 500m asl, I added about 35 species to the list, mostly common stuff with broad habitat tolerance.

All in all a very enjoyable outing with records of some species very localized in Vietnam - and this despite the unfavorable season (the worst one in fact...). The hill station of Sa Pa is one of the best places in the country for Sino-Himalayan butterflies (the Hoang Lien Son range lie at the south-eastern extent of the Himalayan chain). In fact, in this area, we see the convergence of 3 distinct biogeographical realms, the Sino-Himalayan, Indo-Malayan and Palaearctic. The overlap of this 3 realms leads to a unique species composition of exceptional diversity, not only for butterflies but also for birds, amphibians, flora etc.

I will come back this year, in spring or summer, for sure!

Checklist of the species spotted at the location (Tam Đường District/Lai Chau Prov., along QL 4B, from 300m to 1800m asl, one day/6 hours): 

**Pieris erutae montana ++
Pieris canidia ++
Appias lyncida +
Hebomoia glaucippe +
Eurema blanda ++
Catopsilia pomona +
**Colias fieldi ++

Danaus genutia ++
Cethoria biblis +
Parantica aglae +
Parantica sita +
Parantica melaneus +
Acraea issoria (larvae) +++
Vanessa cardui +
Euploea core ++
Lethe verma +
Mycalesis sp.
Athyma selenophora +
Athyma perius +
Moduza procris +
Symbrethia lilaea +++

Juniona lemonias +
Neptis hylas ++
Neptis sp. +
Cynitia lepidea +

Zemeros flegyas +
Abisara echerius +
Abisara neophron +
*Abisara freda +

*Heliophorus eventa ++
*Heliophorus brahma ++
Catochrysops strabo +
Zizeeria maha +
Lampides boeticus +

Notocrypta curvifascia +
Potanthus sp. ++
Parnara sp. +

(Abundance : + 1-2 specimens, ++ 3-5 spec., +++ more than 5 spec.)
* Sino-Himalayan species
**Palaearctic species with distribution extending into the Oriental Region

Pieris erutae montana
Found around high-altitude vegetable gardens of ethnic minority people, where the caterpillars feed on family Cruciferae like cabbages

Pieris canidia, female

Heliophorus eventa, male
A Sino-Himalayan species known from N.Myanmar, N.Thailand, Laos, N.Vietnam, S.China
It is very localized in Vietnam (Lao Cai & Ha Giang Provinces)

Heliophorus brahma major, male - the well-named "Golden Sapphire"

Another male specimen
This nice Sino-Himalayan species occurs in N.India, N.Myanmar, N.Thailand, N.Vietnam, S.China (Yunnan at least). In Vietnam, it is recorded from Lao Cai, Ha Giang and Phu Tho Provinces (Monastyrskii & Devyatkin, 2016)

Abisara freda - a Sino-Himalayan Riodinid only recorded in Vietnam from the Hoang Lien Son range 

Abisara neophron - a widespread and locally common Indo-Malayan Riodinid
Subspecies present  in Vietnam is chelina 

Abisara echerius  - probably subsp. echerius known from northern areas along Chinese border, whereas subsp. paionea is widespread throughout the rest of the country

Vanessa cardui, undoubtedly the most widespread butterfly in the world

Male Parantica sita sita sipping nectar from Crassocephalum rubens
Particularly easy to see in this picture are the male alar androconial organ (sex brand) on the sub-tornal area of the hindwing

Athyma perius

Symbrethia lilaea

Notocrypta curvifascia on Crassocephalum rubens - more colourful than the individuals I usually see around Hanoi

Eurema blanda, mating pair

Acraea issoria larvae, found in abundance at all elevations