Butterflies in the Enclosure
Papilio demoleus malayanus (Lime Butterfly)
The Lime Butterfly is a common butterfly in Singapore, and can be found as often around urban areas as well as parks, gardens and on the fringes of the nature areas. Anywhere there is a Lime Bush (Citrus), it is quite likely that one can find this butterfly nearby.
The common Lime or Kalamansi is cultivated by many Singaporeans as a garnish to the local cuisine. The plant can therefore be found in many gardens and apartments. Where pesticides are not used, it is quite likely that the Lime Butterfly will lay her eggs on the Citrus plant.
The butterfly is black with large yellow markings on the uppersides. The underside is predominantly yellow with black markings.
Eggs are laid singly on the Citrus leaves and the young larvae resemble bird's droppings. At the later instars, the larvae become green. The pupa resembles that of the Common and Great Mormons and is attached upright and supported with a silken girdle.
Danaus chrysippus chrysippus (Plain Tiger)
The Plain Tiger is rather local in Singapore, where it generally stays within the vicinity of its caterpillar host plants.
The butterfly has a rich fulvous orange forewings with a broad black apical border bearing a series of white spots. It occurs in two forms - form chrysippus which has orange hindwings, and form alcippoides which has white hindwings. Males can be distinguished by an additional brand on the hindwing.
Singapore is host to both forms of the Plain Tiger with the white-hindwinged form-alcippoides being the more common of the two forms. This species is distasteful to birds.
Acraea violae (Tawny Coster)
First discovered in Singapore (Punggol area) in September 2006, the species has since spread to many other parts of Singapore.
The butterflies of this subfamily are characterised by a perfectly flat hindwing and by having the cells of both wings closed by tubular veins. Their behaviour is sluggish, and, like the Danainae, they have a leathery body and are tenacious of life. They frequently exhibit Mullerian mimicry and serve as models for Batesian mimics from other families.
The eggs are laid in clusters and the gregarious larvae are cylindrical and bear branched spines, termed scoli, on each segment. The host plants are commonly species of "Passifloraceae."
Appias libythea olferna (Striped Albatross)
The Striped Albatross gets its name from the male butterfly, which is white with prominent black veins on the underside. The female is dark dusted with yellow wing bases.
This species established itself in Malaysia and Singapore about 50 years ago, due to the wildspread abundance of its food plant the Purple Cleome (Cloeme rutidosperma).
It is a common butterfly which can be found in the urban areas of Singapore. Both the males and females can be seen flying in bright sunshine in HDB estates and even in the midst of downtown traffic. Males are sometimes observed feeding on damp seepages on roadsides in numbers. The females do not demonstrate such behaviour, preferring to feed on the nectar of flowers.
Eurema hecabe contubernalis (Common Grass Yellow)
The Common Grass Yellow is often referred to as the most abundant butterfly in Malaysia and Singapore. The species can be found throughout Singapore, even in the heart of the city. When in flight, it is almost indistinguishable from the other 5 Eurema species found in Singapore.
The butterfly, with its bright lemon yellow wings with black bordering on the upperside and dark brown markings on the underside, is often very variable, particularly in the underside markings. The female is larger and a paler yellow, with broader black but diffused markings on the uppersides of both wings.
In the specimen photographed, the dark brown marking at the apex of the forewing is rather distinct. However, there are specimens where this marking is very small or even not present.
The Common Grass Yellow feeds on a variety of Leguminosae and amongst its favourites are Albizzia, Cassia and Caesalpinia.
Pieris canidia canidia (Cabbage White)
A slow flyer, this particulars species seems to be confined to Singapore as it was not found in neighbouring Peninsula Malaysia or Thailand until recently. Some theory suggest that it has been accidentally introduced from Hong Kong / China as its food plants include certain vegetables. The butterfly has been sighted across the causeway in Johor, indicating that it might have migrated across the Johor Straits.
In places like Hong Kong, Pieris canidia is usually found near vegetable fields where it's caterpillar feed on family Cruciferae like Chinese Cabbage or Cabbage.
Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
The Leopard Lacewing (cethosia cyane) was first sighted and recorded on end 2005 in Singapore. It ranges from India, throughout Southeast Asia and south to Papua New Guinea.
This dazzling butterfly exhibits strong sexual dimorphism. Females feature wing patterns with a grey or white background, whereas the upper surfaces of the males are a bright orange. Both sexes are sprinkled with blackish-blue spots and lining veins.
The caterpillars of the lacewing butterfly feed on the leaves of flowering vines in the genus Passiflora and sequester defensive phytochemicals from the plant.
Consequently, the larvae and adult butterflies display a distinct warning colouration that advertises their unpalatable nature to potential predators. When handled, they often exude a noxious odour generated from the ingested passion vine organic compounds.