Sunday, September 2, 2012

Butterfly Garden Pre-Activity Outing

Hey ya'll 

Thanks to the efforts of Joanne Tong, Carolyn Tay and the Monash University Green Representative Movement, the Butterfly Garden that I had envisioned could be set up around campus grounds as a permanent breeding spot for our insect friends is finally coming to fruition. But while the administrative body are going about their own way, settling the paperwork and everything else that is required before we can actually begin building and planting this garden, the student volunteers and myself are off to a lot more "fun" things so that we can start to learn more about butterflies, insects, and appreciating these animals in general. This weekend, we had our first "meetup" of sorts, which took place as a short session where I could do what I do best; talk about butterflies. The "outing" was divided into two sessions, a sit-down session and a part where we tried to spot butterflies and their young in the wild and while I must say I had fun getting to know everyone via the sit-down session, it was the spotting them in the wild that really got me going. And here are some pictures courtesy of Miss Nurul Tasnim. 

The weather was not favorable when we set out that day, but fortunately, things began to pick up and the sun started to shine halfway into our walk which in turn started to stir the butterflies. Having just awoken from their temperature induced slumber, many of the butterflies were still quite 'tame' that morning as they went about their way, sipping nectar from the freshly blossoming flowers.

However, while butterflies are quite easy to spot but this is hardly ever the case for their larvae and pupae. Here I think the students are trying their best to spot the spiny caterpillars of the Tawny Coster (acrea terpsicore) on the leaves of the wild-growing passion vines. 
Finally! Our first caterpillar sighting. Can you see it? 
The caterpillars of acrea terpsicore are gregarious, which means they seem to enjoy each other's company.  However, this is only the case with caterpillars from the smaller instars as I've observed the larger ones tend to lead relatively solitary lives before finding a nice spot upon which they can hang and pupate from.
Here. a larger caterpillar hangs on its own as it begins to pupate. This poor fellow was unfortunately attacked by ants before it could finish. We tried saving it, by blowing and brushing as many of the ants off, but the caterpillar began to succumb to the poison from the ant bites and we didn't see any reason to deprive the ants of a meal after that. 
We didn't see much in terms of other butterflies there and were lucky to find this single Peacock pansy (Junonia  almana) fluttering among the flowers. Here I am showing my students the eye spots which give the butterfly its name. 
No worries though! No butterflies or any other animal was harmed in the process of our outing! Here is the very same butterfly shortly after it was released. 
All in all, I think we had a great outing! If there was anything i regretted or wish I could change about it, it would have to be the lack of variety we saw on that day. But I suppose there's nothing to it. We do not control nature, after all. Perhaps for our next trip we should go somewhere a lot more 'wild'. The Ampang Forest sounds like a really good choice! 

No comments: