Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February goes to the Swallowtails

Hey ya'll

I am so excited! I can't believe it is only just three more days before I finally get to go on the vacation I've been jabbering about for the past three months! Three more days and I will be embarking on the trip I've had planned for the past three months: three full days of rest and rejuvenation in the cold mountainous air of Genting Highlands... hmmm, I suppose good things really do come in threes! And speaking of good things the passing of the Chinese New Year has brought with it, as it usually does, a population boom in the swallowtail butterflies!!! I suppose all that citrus being imported into the country has catalyzed in a lepidopteran orgy of epic proportions. Why, just yesterday I found several common mormon females (Papilio polytes) and red helen swallowtails (Papilio helenus) ovipositing on my lime plants. I didn't have much time to observe and harvest their eggs but I'll check back in a few days to spot the larvae.

On a more sour note, I'm experiencing first hand the terrors of damp on a lepidopterist's collection. Several butterflies that I have kept in storage (some of which I intended to trade with an Italian collector later this year) had somehow gotten damp (despite the copious amounts of silica gel and charcoal I placed inside) and are now sprouting fluffy white fungi! I've since treated many of them with nail polish remover before leaving them to dry thoroughly but I'm afraid some of them were so damaged that they had to be thrown away... in the meantime, it seems that the moisture acted as a humidifying chamber because many of the butterflies were as pliable as if they had just died an hour ago! I even spread one as an experiment. Glad to say that none of my butterfly display was affected by this, and thank goodness too! I have some rather prized  (and irreplaceable) specimens there... 

Assorted butterflies and moths being spread for display
On an ending note, Ray is studying a particularly interesting subject this semester known as Pet Psychology, and the stuff on Animal Assisted Therapy aside, it is actually pretty cool because they get to meet and greet with a whole lot of creepy, crawly and sometimes slithery creatures up close and personal! Last week it was snakes. Today it was tarantulas! Gee, I can't wait to hear what they will encounter next?! Meanwhile, we often joke that he is fortunate that he has me as my knowledge on these things would no doubt come in handy!!! In the meantime, I should probably do something more with this influx of swallowtails... maybe if I have the time I'll try to make a species count everyday. I heard there's a way to mark butterflies by sticking small stickers on their wings (they do it in some places to keep track of Monarch populations). I wonder if I can improvise something here. Perhaps, but more research is needed. Till next time.

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