Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pins and Needles 8: Butterflies that were Raised by Ants.

Hey guys!

I know this has been long overdue in that I've been saying I'll do a post on my lycaenids for over more than a week now but well, I guess other interesting things kept coming up and I kept attending to them first! It just goes to show that you should never put off tomorrow what you can do today! I mean whose to say something better won't come along tomorrow right? Anyway I'm not going to put it off anymore, even though the most exciting thing happened today (I finally got my leaf insect lodging with me!!!! but more on that later). Anyway, I'm just going to combine like two lycaenid posts into one to make up for lost time. So first up is this latest addition to my collection. Chilades Pandava or the Plains Cupid. This is actually a pretty remarkable butterfly in terms of colour although most people often overlook them because of their small size and dull-upper coloring.  Unlike other lycaenids though, this one has tiny antenna-like tails at the end of this hindwings, near the false eyespots, possibly to deter predators from attacking the real head of the butterfly.

Brown underside of Plains Cupid (Chilades Pandava)
 It should be of note though, that dull coloured wings are often a common trait with lycaenids in that (being so small as it is) the browns and grays often  allow the butterfly to hide better in the undergrowth where it lives. It is, however, when these marvelous insects take flight that their true beauty is shown. Lycaenid butterflies are commonly known as "blues" and if you look at the following pictures, perhaps you can see why.

Brilliant blue upperside, Plains Cupid (Chilades Pandava)

Size and colour comparison of Plains Cupid (Chilades Pandava) and Pale Grass Blue (Pseudozizeeria Maha)

Note how much more brilliant and iridescent the blue is in the Plains Cupid when compared to the smaller Grass Blues which is unsurprising considering that lycaenid butterflies under the genus Chilades are also known as "Jewel Blues". And what's more, these butterflies are as common as they get, often even outnumbering the more plainly seen gray albatross and lime swallowtail butterflies. Just goes to show that there is beauty in every nook and cranny of nature, even where we're not accustomed to looking. Truly an amazing species, the lycaenids are probably one of the only butterflies to have a symbiotic relationship with ants, being raised, tended to and cared for in the heart of ant colonies up to the point where they emerge as fully grown butterflies! Now that's day-care for you!!!
Pale Grass Blue species variants

"Obsession?! I prefer to call it, devotion." Insectiva.


Anonymous said...

beautiful butterfly... may i know how u preserved those butterflies? coz i do collecting some bugs but i dont know hot to keep them..

Cyren said...

Hi Mr. IX it depends really, what sort of isnects you are trying to preserve :)

Most insects (butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles) can simply be spread and dried out on a piece of styrofoam for a couple of days or so in an air-tight container before placing into their respective display cases.

But if they are soft-bodied insects (i.e larva/pupa) you may need chemical preservatives to keep them in.

For butterflies and other insects such as cicadas/dragonflies/grasshoppers I often use a bit of mothball to put into the display case to prevent infestation with parasites and fungus.