Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Cuc Phuong at the rainy season

Well, another trip to Cuc Phuong has yielded yet another species for my personal records. It had been raining all week and I was desperate for it to stop. The weather forecast was predicting rain, I decided to go anyway.
It was a rainy day, so most of butterflies were all hidden in the vegetation. Quickly, I have realised that it would be a challenging - and very probably not productive - trip. Even the most common and conspicuous species (i.e. Appias spp., Papilio spp., Euploea spp., Tirumala spp. Ideopsis spp....) were small in number.

I decided to focuse on the forest edge (roadside before Mac lake, botanical gardens), instead of the forest interior - too gloomy for photo. The flowering plants (mainly Bidens) here attracted a good diversity of species but few individuals, mostly common species but also some unexpected goodies such as the Lycaenids Suasa lisides, Sinthusa chandrana, Hypolycaena othona, Rapala cf. suffusa - all new for me.

I recorded around 80 species, so about 75% of the number of species I saw 2 months ago during the same period of time (1,5 day), among them five news species for me (and another which I don't know what it is). It seems very likely that heavy rains over the past few weeks* increase the mortality of caterpillar, pupae and adults, hence the low abundance of butterflies. The cooler and wetter weather affect also the detectability of many species. But it's very likely that the abundance and species richness can also fluctuated strongly between days, i.e. between overcast and sunny days.

*from the Meterological Station data, it was reported that Northern Vietnam received the last 2 months an above average rainfall.

With this trip, I finally get to that magical 300 species barrier, i.e. 300 species of butterflies photographed in Vietnam (all in the North).
300 species up... 400 here I come. Could take some time though!... unless I travel further south.

Checklist of the species spotted at the location (1,5 day, 15/16th July 2017): 

Papilio nephelus ++
Papilio helenus ++
Papilio polytes +
Papilio paris +
Graphium sarpedon ++
Graphium doson ++
Lamproptera curius +
Lamproptera meges ++

Appias lyncida +++
Appias  albina ++
Appias galba +
Cepora nadina +++
Cepora nerissa +++
Ixias pyrene ++
Eurema spp. ++
Catopsilia pomona +++

Danaus genutia ++
Euploea mulciber ++
Parantica aglea +
Euploea core ++
Euploea tulliolus +
Ideopsis similis ++
Tirumala septentrionis +
Elymnias hypermnestra +
Lethe confusa +
Mycalesis spp. +++
Mycalesis malsara ++
Ypthima baldus +++
Ariadne ariadne +
Athyma selenophora +
Cupha erymanthis +++
Rohana sp. +
Vagrans egista +
Symbrethia lilaea ++
Juniona almana ++
Juniona atlites ++
Juniona iphita ++
Terinos clarissa +

Kallima "inachus" +
Hypolimnias bolina ++
Cyrestis thyodamas +
Cyrestis cocles +
Cyrestis themire +++
Neptis spp. ++
Pantoporia sp. +
Polyura athamas +
Tanaecia julii +
Libythea sp. +

Zemeros flegyas ++
Abisara echerius +

Curetis bulis ++
Jamides celeno +++
Heliophorus sp.  ++
Acytolepis puspa +++
Ionolyce helicon +++
Anthene emolus +
Prosotas dubiosa +++
Prosotas nora +++
Cigaritis lohita +
Neopithecops zalmora  +
Surendra quercetorum +
Hypolycaena amasa +++
Hypolycaena othona +
Rapala cf. suffusa +
Suasa lisides +
Sinthusa chandrana +

Arnetta atkinsoni +++ 
Polytremis lubricans + 
Borbo cinnara +
Astictopterus jama ++ 
Notocrypta curvifascia +
Cupitha purreea + 
Polytremis lubricans +
Potanthus/Telicota ssp. ++

(Abundance : + 1-2 specimens, ++ 3-10 spec., +++ more than 10 spec.)

Papilio paris
A very common Papilio with broad habitat tolerance, but I never feel bored to shoot this species over and over

Mud-puddling Graphium sarpedon - also a very common Papilionidae

Graphium sarpedon caught by camouflaged Crab Spider (Thomisus sp., Thomisidae)
This spiders are formidable hunters as their camouflage helps them blend in perfectly and ambush preys much bigger than them. I left feeling sorry for the poor butterfly but its just part of nature

Appias lyncida, male

Appias galba, female

Cepora nerissa 
Two species of  Cepora can be seen in N.Vietnam - nerissa and nadina, both very common. The third one present in Vietnam is iudith, but it is only recorded from the South of the country

A Jeweled Flower Mantis (Creobroter sp., very likely the widespread C. gemmatus) dines on an Euploea sp.. Like the Crab Spider, this mantis is a flower-dwelling ambush predator

Here, the prey is Tirumala septentrionis

And here, Danaus genutia - Flower Mantis is an extremely efficient ambush predator!

Ypthima baldus - mating pair
At least 5 species of Ypthima have been recorded at Cuc Phuong (baldus, singorensis, praenubila, huebneri, imitans). Positive identification of field photographed individuals is often a tricky business, because either the upperside or underside of an individual may not be available

Cupha erymanthis mud-puddling with Cyretis cocles and C. themire
Cupha erymanthis is a very common species, but its active and skittish nature make it challenging to shoot at close range. Occasionally, however, when it's attracted to sweat and other food sources that it likes, the Rustic becomes more cooperative and allows the photographer to approach it

A nectaring Cyretis themire - more often seen puddling

Anthene emolus

Neopithecops zalmora
This small species is not uncommon and is usually observed alongside shady trails. Its flight is typically feeble and erratic  

Prosotas nora 
A common Lycaenid to be found along forested paths and roadsides where a big number of males can be found congregating at moist spots. According to Monastyrskii  & Devyatkin (2016), 7 Prosotas species are currently known in Vietnam: aluta, bhutea, gracilis, lutea, pia, nora & dubiosa - the 2 latter being the most widespread and also the only ones recorded in the north of the country

Ionolyce helicon
Note the straight termen of both wings and the pointed apex of the forewing - hence its English name, the "Pointed Lineblue"

Cigaritis lohita 
The genus Cigaritis is represented in Vietnam by 8 species viz. lohita, syama, seliga, vulcanus, vixinga, gigas, leechi & evansii (Monastyrskii & Devyatkin, 2016)

Suasa lisides - one of the highlights of this trip

Sinthusa chandrana

Rapala cf. suffusa, female

Hypolycaena othona - a new species for me and my third Hypolycaena photographed in Vietnam
This genus is represented in Vietnam by 5 species viz. erylus, kina, amasa, thecloides and othona (Monastyrskii & Devyatkin, 2016)

Hypolycaena amasa - a common Lycaenid
The butterfly is quite a sight to behold when it flies with its long white tails trailing elegantly behind

Arnetta atkinsoni - the Hesperid butterfly I encountered the most during this trip

Cupitha purreea
Note the well camouflaged Crab Spider sitting in ambush, almost invisible amongst the white petals

Polytremis lubricans
It has a characteristic rich ochreous brown underside colour. The number of HW spots visible varies greatly & may be almost absent

Borbo cinnara

I also found some new Orthoptera for my personal list, among them this stunning Aularches miliaris: