23 July 2011

Butterfly of the Month - July 2011

Butterfly of the Month - July 2011
The Spotted Judy (Abisara geza niya)

And so, we gallop past the half-way mark of 2011, and way into the month of July.  In some areas, the global turmoil seemed to have abated and things are returning to normalcy.  However, in this age and time, we have been trained to expect the unexpected.  Singapore's economic recovery stabilised, as our little city state prepares to face new challenges with an uncomfortable trepidation.

The political atmosphere appears to have taken an approach where the citizenry has become more vocal and no punches are pulled when engaging the authorities.  Yet the government is now more willing to listen and to debate policies and new directions.  In some quarters, the old timers opine that the government has gone soft.  But change is here to stay, and we will have to see how the new style of public engagement can continue to see Singapore prosper and grow in the years to come.

On a more day-to-day view of things, the Certificate of Entitlement has breached the S$70,000 mark and rising.  For the less familiar amongst our readers, the COE is a piece of paper that gives a car owner the licence to buy and own a car - for the next ten years at least.  Whenever I explain this quota system of managing the republic's car population on the roads to my foreign friends, I usually get looks of amazement and disbelief.  When the realities of the monetary amounts sink in, my friends will often think that Singaporeans are mad, spending that kind of money (which is now of a higher value than the car itself) on a piece of paper!  Nowhere else in the world has such a system!  Uniquely Singapore, we call it...

The birthstone for July is the Ruby, a pink to blood-red gemstone.  The ruby is considered one of the four precious stones, the others being the sapphire, emerald and diamond.  The red colour of this stone is caused by the element chromium.  I will always remember the rubies that I've seen in Myanmar during my earlier trips there, and the most sought-after and valuable ones came from the province of Mogok, famed for their 'pigeon's blood' stones.   

The glowing ruby shall adorn,
Those who in July are born;
Then they'll be exempt and free
From love's doubts and anxiety.
- Gregorian Birthstone Poems

A mating pair of the Spotted Judy

For July's Butterfly of the Month, we feature the Spotted Judy (Abisara geza niya).  The Judys belong to a family of butterflies in the Riodinidae family, usually referred to as Metalmarks.  Of the three extant species of the genus Abisara here in Singapore, two, the Spotted and Malayan Plum Judys are coloured a deep red. 

The Judys are relatively small-sized butterflies usually with a wingspan of no more than 45mm.  They have a unique habit of hopping actively from leaf to leaf with half-opened wings.  Most of the species in the genus favour the shady forest understorey, and are mainly active in the early and late afternoon hours of the day.

The Spotted Judy is recognised by the pale sub-apical patch of the forewing and the black submarginal spots on the hindwing.  One of the characteristics of this species is that the underside of the hindwing's post-discal band is dislocated at vein 4.  This dislocation is variable, and is usually more pronounced in the female than in the male.  The prominently angled hindwing is more rounded in the male, but is more angular in the female.  

Three views of the upperside of the Spotted Judy with varying sidelight angles that reveal the vivid blue colour

The species feature attractive emerald-coloured eyes, and is unique in that the females have six fully-developed legs, whilst the males have only four fully-developed legs.  The males' remaining pair of legs (the forelegs) appear more like hair tufts and are useless for walking.The upperside of the wings of the males, when viewed at certain angles and in a sidelight, feature a strong purple-blue sheen.

The Spotted Judy cannot be said to be very common, but at certain favoured localities, several individuals can often be observed dog-fighting in the late afternoon hours of the day.  They will return again and again to the same favourite perches and then take off to 'attack' another individual that strays into its territory.  

Text by Khew SK : Photos by Chng CK, James Chia, Sunny Chir, James Foong, Khew SK, Loke PF, Benedict Tay and Benjamin Yam