A White, White Christmas
It has been a year since the Butterflies of Singapore BLOG started the Butterfly of the Month series in December 2007! Time really flies, and it's been really great featuring a special butterfly each month, researching each species, and collecting the excellent photos from members of the ButterflyCircle community.
In Roman mythology, Psyche was a beautiful girl who was visited each night in the dark by Cupid, who told her she must not try to see him. When she did try, while he was asleep, she accidentally dropped oil from her lamp on him, and he awoke and fled. After she had performed many harsh tasks set by Cupid's mother, Venus, Jupiter made her immortal, and she and Cupid were married. Her name Psyche is Greek for both “soul” and “butterfly.”
Learn how to pronounce Psyche
The Psyche is a small and delicate butterfly. It is usually seen fluttering feebly, close to the ground, stopping only to feed on flowers. A favourite flower which it likes to feed on is the white bloom of the Common Asystasia (Asystasia gangetica). The upperside is white, with a black tipped apex and a black oblong subapical spot. The underside carries greenish lines and streaks. It can be found in both urban areas as well as forests.
When observing this feeble flying butterfly, one has to be extremely patient to wait for it to alight to feed on a flower, or to take an occasional rest on a nearby leaf. Though it has a weak flight, it can go on flying for long periods of time without taking a rest stop - butterfly photographers will find it a challenge to take a shot of this butterfly!
The Cabbage White (Pieris canidia canidia)
The 2nd white butterfly featured this month, is the Cabbage White. Another small inconspicuous butterfly, it occurs in mainly urban areas where its host plant, Cleome rutidosperma, which it shares with the Psyche, grows.
The Cabbage White has predominantly white wings, with usually a few black post-discal spots and a black apical border on the forewings above. The females are more heavily black-dusted, and possess a distinct double spot in space 1b of the forewing. In pristine specimens, there is a distinct yellow streak at the basal area of the hindwing below.
This species occurs in open grassy areas and flies in the company of the Striped Albatross and Psyche. It is a weak flyer, and keeps close to the ground, looking for the flowers of common weeds to feed on. On a sunny day, it has a restless flight, and rarely stops for long.
It occurs in urban areas as well as parklands and can sometimes be common where it occurs. Often, several individuals are seen at one time, especially in the vicinity of its host plant.
Text by Khew SK : Photos by Tan BJ, Federick Ho, Sum CM, Sunny Chir & Khew SK
Acknowledgments :* Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary