Philippines Blog

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Tony Moore
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Philippines Blog

Postby Tony Moore » Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:01 am

Instead of cluttering up the ID section of the forum with Philippines pix, it seemed sensible to start a blog here, and them them as wants to look, can look.
I fear that it may turn out to be a litany of 'nearly' photo opportunities, as many of the species here seem to blast about without any suggestion of stopping anywhere. There is also no field guide to the butterflies of the area, and anyway, many of the Hesperids are only separable by dissection. In many ways a Philippine butterflyman's lot is not a totally happy one!
I am staying for three months on the territory of the Ateneo de Manila University campus, where by wife has a temporary professorship. The campus is situated on a hill amongst what was once virgin rainforest. There are several 5/10 acre patches of secondary forest and even the occasional original rainforest tree, which somehow 'scaped the woodsman's axe. These areas support a considerable population of butterflies (and moths - an enormous Atlas Moth was flapping about out side our room last night - it was like a 747 going over). I estimate that I've seen more than 50 species already. I'll try and post a daily report from here and from the various other places that we hope to visit during our stay. Any comments and/or ID thoughts would be very welcome.

Monday 25th November:

The day dawned with a crystal blue sky and by eight o'clock, the heat was already searing, such that apart from the ubiquitous Psyche, there was very little about. The Psyche is often considered to be a very difficult butterfly to photograph as they flap feebly about and rarely settle. The answer is to come here, where there are always several dozens flying about more or less all the time. With these numbers, some must stop to feed or mate, so 5 mins usually produces a 'settler'.
I did see a number of species whizzing about, including a couple of new Pierids. Few photo opps were presented, except a quick chance at (I think) a Great Eggfly and a lovely Pierid, yet to be ID'd.

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.

Tony M.

Chris Jackson
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Chris Jackson » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:46 pm

Hi Tony,
Lovely pics. I spent a few minutes on the Web and was quite chuffed to come up with this butterfly which looks most similar to your Pierid :
Orange Gull (Cepora iudith malaya).
And that Great Eggfly looks brill.
Chris.
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Tony Moore
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Tony Moore » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:56 pm

Thanks, Chris,

I have also been doing a bit of 'netting', and came up with Cepora aspasia. Both certainly look possibles - any other offers. I have finally met a Doc from the Biology Dept, who I hoped would be able to cast some light on the various species found in Ateneo... Turns out he's a specialist in microscopic aquatic beetles, and wouldn't know what a butterfly was if it bit him on the leg!

Onward and, hopefully, upward,

Tony.

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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Chris Jackson » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:00 pm

Tony,
Perhaps I should have limited myself simply to suggesting Orange Gull Cepora judith , as there appear to be 30 or so subspecies.
Chris
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby NickMorgan » Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:16 pm

cjackson wrote:Tony,
Perhaps I should have limited myself simply to suggesting Orange Gull Cepora judith , as there appear to be 30 or so subspecies.
Chris

Wow, I just Googled Cepora judith and see what you mean! I do love the diversity of species in the tropics, but I find identification truly baffling. You would really have to spend a life time there to start to distinguish between the species and sub-species. It's fun trying to identify them though! :D

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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Padfield » Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:48 pm

Very much enjoying all these pictures - and I'm glad you're putting them together in a blog, Tony, because I often miss new posts.

As I'm sure you are aware, Cepora aspasia is itself sometimes treated as a subspecies of C. judith and I'm sure this (aspasia/judith) is what it is. The species must be very sedentary, with so many subspecies in such a small area (11 just in the Philippines).

The 'eggflies' are an amazing group, the females mimicking various Danaids with remarkable accuracy. Hypolimnas bolina, of which you have a male here, mimics the crows (Euploea sp.), while Hypolimnas misippus, which also flies in the Philippines, is so like a plain tiger I followed and photographed one for several minutes in a busy Mumbai street before I realised it wasn't a plain tiger.

Guy
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Tony Moore
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Tony Moore » Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:34 am

Thanks, Guys, and thank you, Guy, for your gentle expertise.

26th November:

Did my usual early morning circuit in brilliant sunshine, but apart from a very fresh Lemon Emigrant, which declined to be photographed (I did warn you that it was likely to be a 'near miss blog'), I saw only the usual suspects. Went out again, in cloudy conditions, at midday, when the only occurrence of note was a 20 minute contest with a Club Silverline, which could not make up its mind whether to open its wings or not. The CS eventually won, but I did get a glimpse of the upperside...

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Hope for better tomorrow.

T.M.

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Tony Moore
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26th November

Postby Tony Moore » Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:33 am

Another morning of 'near misses', I'm afraid. I wasn't proposing to post today, but on the way home I spotted what surely must be called the 'Bird-dropping Spider'. It reminded me of the Black Hairstreak pupa, and showed no sign of moving, even when prodded gently. This place is full of surprises...

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Tony M.

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Tony Moore
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Tony Moore » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:26 pm

After another look, and considering the apparent immobility of the spider, I think this may be a fungus affected, dead spider. Can't imagine how I didn't see it before - d'oh! Must try harder...

T.

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Tony Moore
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Thursday 29th November

Postby Tony Moore » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:53 am

Thought I was due for another blank day, when I spotted this beauty in the undergrowth. I think it must have been freshly emerged.

Papilio alphenor

Unknown Papilion.jpg


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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby NickMorgan » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:02 pm

What a beautiful butterfly. The lines of lighter scales dusted across the wings are lovely.
Your spider had me fooled, too!

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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Padfield » Thu Nov 28, 2013 6:10 pm

Excellent antidote to the snow! Last night, even in the valley, temperatures here dropped below -10°C and struggled to reach zero today.

It won't surprise you to know the silverline gives me tingles, but the swallowtail is lovely, too. You did well to take advantage of the cloudy day. If alphenor behaves like its very close relative, polytes, it will be almost impossible to get a photo like that in the sun. They dance over the flowers, supping while delicately tip-toeing on the petals, never resting their wings.

More tomorrow, I hope ...

Guy
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David M
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby David M » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:33 pm

This is manna from heaven, Tony.

It's cold, grey and butterfly bereft right now in the UK so keep 'em coming!

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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Chris Jackson » Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:58 pm

Great Papilio photo Tony. The unfortunate mouldy spider reminds us that there must be many horrible ways to finish your days in the jungle!! Take care :wink:
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Tony Moore
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28/29/30th November

Postby Tony Moore » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:50 pm

Spent the last three days at an Eco-Resort about 100km. south of Manila. We were shown to our 'hut', to find a Golden Birdwing floating about in the garden! Looked like my kind of place... Sadly, we had rain and cloud for most of our stay :( . I did manage to get out for a couple of hours each day, but the action was pretty restricted. On the first evening I found a Common Tit, which hung on in the wind:

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The commonest Lycaenid was the Gram Blue (I think):
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They were common, but mostly fairly battered. I watched one ovipositing, and found the tiny blue egg. Unfortunately, I don't have my stacking kit with me so was unable to photograph it.

The second day produced a couple of new Hesperids, of which this was the smartest:

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It was about Small Skipper size, but much more 'racy'. The net has so far failed to produce an ID, so any help would be welcome.

The best IMO was only about an hour before we were due to leave. The rain stopped, and I ventured out for a last look at the vegetable garden. I had seen several examples of a small white Lycaenid buzzing each day, but despite lots of 'following', had never seen one land. I saw an example flying quite slowly, around a small shrub. It landed deep in the plant, out of camera reach. It proved to be very compliant, and I twice got it on my finger. As soon as I let it crawl onto a photographically friendly leaf, it upped and went back to its twig. I eventually inserted myself in the bush to find the butterfly (and me, by then), covered in ants. The ants appeared to be cleaning the insect - and biting me,meanwhile. I think that it was one of the Miletinae, possibly Allotinus luzonensis. This family is fascinating in that the larvae are carnivorus, feeding on Coccids and Aphids, usually from an ant herd. The ants seem not to bother about these depredations. There is patently a very close symbiotic relationship between the ants and the butterfly. Wish I had had more time to watch:

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Tony M.

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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Padfield » Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:38 pm

Brilliant picture of the ants with the Lycaenid - which I agree is Allotinus sp. I think that lovely skipper is Suada albina (sometimes given as albinus, but that surely breaches the ICZN rules). If I'm right, yours is the best picture of it on the internet!

I think the 'tit' is not the common tit, Hypolycaena erylus but the closely related H. sipylus. See the pictures here:

http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~EY4Y-TKNM/Theclinae-Phil/Hypolycaena.html

Note the rather more broken pd line, terminating, on the hindwing, with a strong point at the costa.

Guy
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby NickMorgan » Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:09 pm

Fantastic pictures again. The Allotinus being tended by the ants is amazing. I have never heard of an adult butterfly being tended by ants before.
You are going to end up with an amazing collection of pictures after three months!

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Tony Moore
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Re: Philippines Blog

Postby Tony Moore » Mon Dec 02, 2013 3:15 am

Thanks, again, Guy for your expert input.

I was not happy with erylus, the eye colour was wrong, and there was a dot rather than a line at the hw costa, but my only reference book is 'The Butterflies of Singapore' by K S Khoon - not ideal. The skipper ID looks spot on - a seriously stunning little butterfly.

Tony.

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Tony Moore
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2nd December

Postby Tony Moore » Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:14 am

Not a lot to see, today. It's becoming more difficult to find new species. Finally managed to catch what I assumed was an Ancyra Blue, with open wings. Most of the Lycaenids here are AB, but looking at the hw black marks, I'm less sure. Another one for Guy, I'm afraid :oops: :

DSC00386.JPG
.

Tony M.

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Tony Moore
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3rd December

Postby Tony Moore » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:09 pm

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This has me completely flummoxed, in that it has no tails.. There doesn't seem to be any divergence in the marginal line, which would allow for tails being lost, and the fringing looks complete. Any ideas?

Tony M.


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