20 June 2013

Random Gallery - Black Veined Tiger

Random Butterfly Gallery
The Black Veined Tiger (Danaus melanippis hegesippus)

Despite the haze, our butterflies still need to go about their daily activities and surviving the best they can in environmentally hazardous conditions that they can do nothing about. Given the biology of butterflies and their caterpillars, they breathe through a series of openings at the sides of their abdomens called spiracles. Oxygen is transported via a complicated structure of tubes and air sacs to the cells. Varying sizes of butterflies and caterpillars would mean that the spiracles vary in size as well. We do know that haze (or simply smoke) consists of suspended particles in air. Some of these particles are big, relative to the size of the butterfly's spiracles. It is highly possible that these particles can clog up these spiracles, and prevent the butterfly or caterpillar from breathing properly, effectively suffocating it. Picture a first instar caterpillar which measures no longer than 1-2mm.

This adult butterfly, a Black Veined Tiger, goes about its business of feeding on the flowers of the Blood Flower (Asclepias currasivica) at Gardens by the Bay. ButterflyCircle member Sunny Chir photographed it. Will our butterflies and caterpillars be severely affected by the current haze in Singapore? Like all living/breathing organisms, I am sure there is some effect. How bad this effect is, is yet to be seen in the coming weeks.

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