Tuesday, 27 October 2015

151. Hypolimnas bolina (The Common Eggfly)

Number: 151
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Nymphaliinae
Species: Hypolimnas bolina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name(s): The Common Eggfly, Great Eggfly, Blue Moon Butterfly
Photography location: Hanoi City

The genus Hypolimnas comprises more than 30 species. It is represented in Vietnam by 2 species viz. bolina and misippus.

Hypolimnas bolina has many subspecies and forms in Oriental region. It is a very common butterfly, extremely adaptable, which can be found in many habitats dominated by anthropogenic activities.

Male Hypolimnas bolina
Note white subapical spots on FW and purple-washed white discal patches on both wings

Typical behavior of a male: on a leave, head down, ready to chase away any intruder
Male shows very strong territory habit. Whenever any butterfly fly into its territory, it chases away them aggressively. Then it always returns back to the same spot

 Male, underside

Another male specimen

The female, somewhat larger than male and without "white moons" on wings
This individual is feeding on Chromolaena odorata, an invasive shrub native to South and Central America - but exceptionally attractive to butterflies

Female, underside
The undersides of both sexes very similar : orange brown to dark brown, with a large prominent white discal band on both wings

Monday, 26 October 2015

150. Telicota colon (The Pale Palm Dart)

Number: 150
Family: Hesperiidae
Sub-Family: Hesperiinae
Species: Telicota colon Fabricius, 1775
Common name(s): The Pale Palm Dart, Pale-orange Darter
Photography location: Hanoi City

A male enjoying the autumn sun.

 Male, upperside.

Female, upperside.

Male genitalia
End of clasp broad and rounded.

Illustration of genitalia of different Telicota species (as shown in The Butterflies of The Malay Peninsula, A.S. Corbet and H.M. Pendlebury, 4th Edition).

Monday, 12 October 2015

149. Papilio nephelus chaon (The Yellow Helen)

Number: 149
Family: Papilioniidae
Sub-Family: Papilioniinae
Species: Papilio nephelus chaon Westwood,1845
Common name(s): The Yellow Helen
Photography location: Cuc Phuong N.P. (Ninh Binh Prov.)

Papilio nephelus chaon superficially closely resembles P. helenus but the latter is smaller and has red submarginal lunules on the underside hindwings, whereas these are yellowish-orange in nephelus. Moreover, the HW upper discal white patch is larger in nephelus, formed of elongate broad streaks in interspaces 4 to 7 (5 to 7 in helenus).

Congregation of mudpuddling Papilio species - protenor (1 in flight), polytes, nephelus, helenus (hiddden) - + 1 Prioneris thestylis 

Two Spangle Papilio protenor euprotenor mudpuddling with a Yellow Helen

Papilio protenor euprotenorP. polytes and P. nephelus (1 in flight on the right corner)

Yellow Helen with Spangle Papilio protenor euprotenor,  Little Map Cyrestis themire and Yellow Orange Tip Ixias pyrene (in flight)

Upperside view of Papilio nephelus chaon
 This species is easily recognisable by the white hindwing patch reaching across four spaces, rather than only three as in helenus. The submarginal lunules on the hindwing underside are ochre yellow or cream rather than red, but are highly variable in size, from totally absent to fully developed lunules in all interspaces

A specimen resting on a fern - the white patch is hidden by the FW

Papilio nephelus chaon courtship (July 2016, Tam Dao)

Papilio nephelus mudpuddling with P. helenus and P. protenor

Another puddle party (water seepage on a rocky slope at a riverbank, Tam Dao, mid-June 2016) with 5 Papilio species (1 nephelus chaon, 2 helenus, 3 bianor gladiator, 4 polytes, 5 memnon) + Graphium eurypylus cheronus (6)

Four species of Papilionidae puddling together: Chilasa clythia, Papilio polytes, Papilio nephelus chaon, Graphium doson

Two P. nephelus chaon (background) puddling with P. polytes and Papilio helenus

Saturday, 10 October 2015

148. Papilio polytes polytes (The Common Mormon)

Number: 148
Family: Papilioniidae
Sub-Family: Papilioniinae
Species: Papilio polytes polytes Linnaeus 1758
Common name(s): The Common Mormon
Photography locations: Hanoi City, Tam Dao foothills (Vinh Phuc Prov.)

Papilio polites ranges widely from Sri Lanka and India to Indo-China, S. Japan, the Philippines and Sunda Islands in SE Asia. Its caterpillars feed on a variety of Rutaceae plants (Citrus and allied genera, including lemon and orange plants) and the butterfly is palatable to its predators such as birds. Various female forms of this species derive protection from such predators with their resemblance to distantly related, chemically protected (toxic) red-bodied Swallowtails, which experienced birds avoid eating. This type of resemblance is called Batesian mimicry, which is restricted in P. polytes to females, and the toxic species they resemble are called "models". 

Non-mimetic (form cyrus) females look like males, whereas mimetic female morphs (forms stichius, polytes, romulus...) mimic distantly related, toxic Pachliopta swallowtails.

Male Papilio polytes

The Common Mormon can be found in both natural and urban areas - cultivated Citrus has ensured this. Males and females can often be seen feeding at flowers. Males are also commonly found mud-puddling in lowland forests.
In Vietnam, two subspecies have been recorded : P. polytes polytes (Sino-Japanese taxon: N. Vietnam to Japan) and P. polytes romulus (Indomalayan taxon: C. and S. Vietnam, + Thailand, Malaisia, Laos, India...).

♀ form stichius resemble the unpalatable butterfly Pachliopta aristolochiae, and is able to avoid predators as a result. © 2015 Haruhiko Fujiwara.

Common Mormon courtship. Female (on the left) display the non-mimetic form cyrus

The courtship 'dance' of this species is particularly beautiful. The male appears to mob the female, until she eventually settles on a plant to forage on flowers, fluttering her wings. The male hovers continuously around her, occasionally butting her. The female then takes off, flies upwards to a next flower with the male following, facing her at all times.

Papilio polytes can be easily distinguished from the similar prexaspes by the presence of white marginal spots up the forewing from the tornus

The female of the non-mimetic form cyrus

The male. In Tonkin, different forms are known (pammon, borealis, depictus...) but none is mimetic

The female form stichius which mimics the Common Rose Pachliopta aristolochiae 
but with an entirely black abdomen

Female form stichius, upperside 
Note the central and large white patch (confined to anterior portion of HW in P. helenus)

Another mimetic female

Papilio polytes courtship, with the female displaying the stichius form

 Female form stichius followed by 2 courting males

A puddle party of Papilio polytes

 P. polytes puddling with Papilio helenus (foreground) and P. nephelus chaon 

Papilio polytes, 3th or 4th instar caterpillar showing osmeterium
This Y-shaped eversible gland located mid-dorsally behind the head, is a universal characteristic of  swallowtail caterpillars (Papilionidae).

Old Vietnamese stamp bearing the image of Papilio polytes stichius

Friday, 9 October 2015

147. Papilio helenus helenus (The Red Helen)

Number: 147
Family: Papilioniidae
Sub-Family: Papilioniinae
Species: Papilio helenus helenus Linnaeus, 1758
Common name(s): The Red Helen
Photography location: Hanoi City

Large, black-bodied and tailed swallowtail with white patches extending into three cells in both the upper and underside of the hindwings with a chain of small red spots at its outer edge. The underside of the forewing is dark-brown with many white to yellow linear markings.  

Papilio helenus is found commonly throughout the year in forested habitats across Vietnam, but does not usually venture out into cultivated land and towns. This butterfly is easily distinguished from similar species in Vietnam by the row of bright red submarginal lunules on the underside of the hindwings.

Papilio helenus courtship. Sexes very similar
Female (on top) larger, more red spots at HW outer edge

The female, upperside

The female, underside

Close-up on the UnH (female)
More or less quadrate white spot in space 7, with 2 more elongate similar spots in spaces 5 and 6 that form a conspicuous upper discal white patch, the outer margin of which is zigzag. 
This white patch of 3 spots in spaces 5-7 is a characteristic feature of both sexes.

Male in flight

Same specimen

A female resting on a leaf - the white patch is hidden by the FW

Males Papilio helenus puddling with P. polytes and 2 P. nephelus chaon
Female Papilionidae do mud-puddle occasionally, especially ones that have just hatched from the pupa and want a drink of fresh water. They do not congregate with the males at urine/salts/faeces, only at plain water. Here in SE Asia it is quite a rare event to see a female Papilio at mud or sandy stream banks. On the other hand, some Pierid females are often found in some numbers mud-puddling at urine mixed in with males, especially Catopsilia pomona and Appias species

Another puddle party (water seepage on a rocky slope at a riverbank, Tam Dao, mid-June 2016) with 5 Papilio species (1 nephelus chaon, 2 helenus, 3 bianor gladiator, 4 polytes, 5 memnon) + Graphium eurypylus cheronus (6)