Sunday, 16 April 2017

Trip to Mount Ba Vi in Spring

The first week of April had nice spring days to look for butterflies at Mount Ba Vi - located 70 km west of Hanoi, a large part is classified as national park.

The survey was mainly conducted in degraded forest at the foothills, in better quality forest at around 500-600m asl. Ca. 75 species were recorded, most of them wide-ranging, common species with broad habitat tolerance. Among them a few new species for me.
Highlights:  Byasa cf. dasarada (few individuals around Bauhinia flowers, spotted with binoculars), Papilio dialis doddsi, Suada albolineata.

Ba Vi is an amazing place and I know that there are loads of interesting species waiting to be found.

Checklist of the species (two visits on 7th & 14th April 2017 / 5 hours each): 

Troides sp.  ++
Byasa cf. dasarada +
Papilio nephelus +
Papilio helenus ++
Papilio polytes ++
Papilio memnon ++
Papilio paris +++ 
Papilio doddsi +
Lamproptera curius +

Pieris canidia ++
Appias lalage +
Appias lyncida +
Appias albina +
Hebomoia glaucippe +
Eurema sp. +++
Catopsilia pomona +++

Thauria lathyi +
Faunis eumeus +
Danaus genutia ++
Parantica aglea ++
Euploea mulciber +++
Euploea core ++
Tirumala septentrionis ++
Kallima "inachus" +
Melanitis leda ++
Melanitis phedima ++
Neope muirheadii + 
Mycalesis mucianus ++ 
Mycalesis malsara
Lethe confusa ++
Lethe europa +
Lethe chandica +
Lethe mekara +
Ypthima baldus ++
Acraea issoria +
Parthenos sylvia  +
Polyura cf. athamas +
Pseudergolis wedah +
Athyma selenophora +

Cethosia cyane ++
Argyreus hyperbius +
Cupha erymanthis +
Hestinalis nama +
Kanisca canace +
Symbrethia lilaea ++
Juniona iphita ++
Juniona almana ++
Hypolimnias bolina ++
Cyrestis thyodamas +
Parthenos sylvia +
Neptis hylas ++
Neptis harita +
Neptis clinia +
Euthalia monina +
Cynitia lepidea +
Tanaecia julii +

Zemeros flegyas ++

Syntarucus plinius 
Udara dilecta +
Celastrina lavendularis +
Heliophorus delacouri ++
Yasoda tripunctata +
Cigaritis syama +

Pseudocoladenia dan +
Mooreana trichoneura +
Notocrypta paralysos + 
Notocrypta curvifascia ++
Halpe sp. +
Astictopterus jama +
Ancistroides nigrita +
Potanthus/Telicota sp.
Pelopidas conjuncta ++
Suada albolineata ++
Iton semamora +

(Abundance : + 1-2 specimens, ++ 3-5 spec., +++ more than 5 spec.)

Papilio doddsi extracting nutrients from charcoal
Papilio dialis belongs to the subgenus Achillides ("Peacocks Swallowtails"). The other representants of this subgenus recorded in Vietnam are P. paris, P. arcturus arcturus, P. krishna charlesi & P. bianor gladiator

Papilio paris sunbathing on a leaf

Papilio paris feeding on Lantana flowers

Papilio helenus, female

Papilio nephelus chaon

Papilio memnon agenor, male

Papilio polytes, mimetic form female

Papilio polytes, 3th or 4th instar caterpillar, with the osmeterium everted behind its head
This Y-shaped eversible gland, located mid-dorsally behind the head, is a defensive organ found in all papilionid larvae, in all stages

Appias lalage, male - a new species for me

Appias albina, male

Argyreus hyperbius, male

Tirumala cf. septentrionis larvae
Caterpillars in Danainae subfamily have 2 or more long dorsal filaments. They are usually banded with bright warning colour usually black, yellow and white

Cupha erymanthis

Faunis eumeus sipping juice from rotten fig

Lethe confusa 
This male shows very strong territory habit. Whenever any butterfly fly into its territory, it chases away them aggressively

Neope muirheadii 

Mycalesis mucianus

Melanitis phedima

Zemeros flegyas - very common all year round, but not often seen with wings fully spread

Yasoda tripunctata

Yasoda tripunctata, showing the distinctive pattern of its upperwings

Cigaritis syama 

Heliophorus delacouri, male

Heliophorus delacouri, male

A supposed Celastrina lavendularis, feeding on bird droppings

Syntarucus plinius

Suada albolineata - a species described in 2000 from northern Vietnam

Halpe sp.

Pelopidas conjuncta, copula

Ancistroides nigrita

The proboscis is particularly long compared to other skipper species

Many skippers are brown, unmarked and not typical of what enthusiasts, hobbyists and nature photographers would find particularly beautiful in a butterfly. Hence it is not surprising that many of these ubiquitous butterflies go about their daily lives, flitting amongst flowers in the early morning hours and later hours of the day largely unnoticed.

Callidula sp.
This is a small moth but it looks like a butterfly, because it not only fly in the day but it also settle with its wing held vertically. But look at antennae, they are not clubbed - a main characteristics of moths.

Moth larva covered with drops of morning dew

Saraca dives, one of North Vietnam's most beautiful flowering trees, 
features in spring nectar-rich blossom that attract many butterflies

It's also the time for the first wave of Speckled Black Cicadas Gaeana maculata

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

265. Appias lalage lalage (The Spot Puffin)

Number: 265
Family: Pieriidae
Sub-Family: Pieriinae
Species: Appias lalage lalage (Doubleday, 1842)
Common name(s):  The Spot Puffin
Photography location: Ba Vi N.P. (Hanoi)

The genus Appias is represented in Vietnam by 9 species (and 11 taxa) - lyncida, olferna, galba, albina, paulina, indra, pandione, lalassis and lalage (Monastyrskii & Devyatkin, 2016).

A. lalage ranges from N.India to Myanmar, N.Thailand, Laos, S.China, Vietnam (N., C. & S.). This is my 5th Appias species spotted in Vietnam.

Appias lalage, male, sipping nectar from Bidens alba flower (Ba Vi, 500m asl, April 2017)

Monday, 3 April 2017

264. Pelopidas assamensis (The Great Swift)

Number: 264
Family: Hesperiidae
Sub-Family: Hesperiinae
Species: Pelopidas assamensis (de Nicéville, 1882)
Common name(s): The Great Swift
Photography location: Ba Vi foothills (Hanoi)

Six species of Pelopidas are currently known to occur in Vietnam viz. agna, mathias, subochracea, conjuncta, sinensis & assamensis. The latter is the largest species of the genus and is therefore quite distinct when seen in the wild.

Pelopidas assamensis, Ba Vi foothills (April 2017)
I'm pretty sure this is the correct ID - unfortunately, I was unable to catch it to examine upperwing pattern

263. Neptis clinia susruta (The Clear Sailor)

Number: 263
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Limenitidiinae
Species: Neptis clinia susruta Moore, 1872
Common name(s): The Clear Sailor
Photography location: Ba Vi (Hanoi)

According to Monastyrskii & Devyatkin (2016), 31 species - and 40 taxa - of Neptis have been recorded in Vietnam. This genus features many lookalikes species which are difficult to identify with a high level of confidence from just field shots.

Neptis species recorded in Vietnam (classified according to upperwings color pattern): 

-Ground color black/dull brown & white markings: clinia*, sappho*, hylas*, yerburii*, soma*, nata*, leucoporos*, sankara*, cartica*, maghada*, nashona*, philyra*, philyroides*, dejeani*, genulfa 

-Ground color black/dull brown & yellow/orange markings: miah*, zaida*, ananta*, namba*, armandia*, antilope*, radha*, narayana subsp. dubernardi*, manasa (subsp. narcissina* + mientrunga),  nemorum*, transita, cydippe*, themis* 

-Ground color smoky chocolate brown: harita*, ilira, pseudovikasi* 

(* recorded in northern Vietnam)

Neptis clinia susruta, from Ba Vi (January 2016)
Note the little white spot at the base of HW space 3 (lower margin of the white discal band) & the elongated triangular end-spot

Another specimen from Ba Vi (February 2016)

 Voucher specimen, upperside (Ba Vi, February 2017)

Same specimen, underside 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

262. Euploea eunice coelestis (The Blue-branded King Crow)

Number: 262
Family: Nymphaliidae
Sub-Family: Danaiinae
Species: Euploea eunice coelestis (Fruhstorfer, [1902])
Common name(s): The Blue-branded King Crow
Photography locations: Cuc Phuong N.P. (Ninh Binh Prov.)

Euploea eunice is known from South China, Taiwan and Indochina south to Indonesia, Borneo and the Philippines. The subsp. coelestris is distributed in the northern and central parts of the Indochina Peninsula.
I didn't yet manage to get images of this species in the field.

Euploea eunice coelestis, male, upperside - voucher specimen from Cuc Phuong (July 2016)
In flight it may be confused with other species having a similar size and blue gloss on the Upf (e.g. E. midamus, E. mulciber, E. sylvester). E. tulliolus has also quite similar Upf wing pattern but is much smaller.

Same specimen, underside

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