28 April 2012

Butterfly of the Month - April 2012

Butterfly of the Month - April 2012
The Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari sodalis)

All too soon, the fourth month of 2012 will be over.  In a few days, we will be looking towards the month of May, and most of the working population of Singapore look eagerly forward in anticipation of the public holiday on 1 May, which is Labour Day.  The wet weather from last month has not yet changed much, and Singapore has been receiving above average rainfall in April according to the meteorological information from the National Environment Agency in Singapore.  

On the work front, a momentous event happened just around 8:30pm last evening.  The company that I work for, officially changed hands from the Australians to the Chinese. At a rather quiet and private event between the two parties a small group of 10 of us partook in the little ceremony that will change the lives of my fellow employees and our future outlook.  After 7 years of 'colonialist rule', this Singapore company moves back into the hands of an Asian owner.  Hopefully, it will mean better prospects for all our staff.

The world acknowledges that Asia, and in particular China, will be the engine of economic growth in the coming years.  There will be much to do in this region, and a whole spectrum of challenges to face.  The global economy is swinging more like a rapid-beat metronome rather than a slow pendulum.  Changes will come fast and furious, and businesses have to be agile on their feet to face daily trials.  

As spring makes its way towards summer in the Northern hemisphere, flowers awaken from their cold slumber and add colour to the world of nature.  This flower of the month for April is traditionally accepted to be the Daisy (Bellis perennis).  The Daisy is actually an herb which symbolizes innocence, stability, sympathy, youth and cheerfulness.  In certain cultures the flower also signifies departure and goodbye  (a rather apt symbolism for the current situation at my workplace).  The common colour of the flower is typically white or yellow, but there are hybrids that comes in various colours and shades in between.  

This month, we feature another butterfly with the word "Chocolate" in its common name, after our March's feature butterfly.   Another Pierid, this month's Butterfly of the Month is the Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari sodalis).  One of six members of the genus Eurema, this small and usually actively flying yellow butterfly is relatively common in Singapore.  Like the other members of its genus, it can be seasonally common.

The Chocolate Grass Yellow's distinct dark brown apex on the forewing beneath instantly sets it apart from its closely-related cousins.  The upperside of the species is a bright lemon yellow with black marginal borders on both the fore and hindwings.  

Another characteristic feature that distinguishes it from the other species amongst the Grass Yellows is the single cell spot on the underside of the forewing.  Earlier articles on this blog describe the key features of the Eurema species in Singapore.  

The Chocolate Grass Yellow is quite common, and is widespread in distribution across Singapore.  It can be found deep in the nature reserves as well as in urban parks and gardens.  Like the other Grass Yellow species, it usually flies restlessly and erratically in search of food.  Photographing this species can be quite challenging at it is active and skittish.

Males of the Chocolate Grass Yellow are regularly observed puddling at damp sandbanks near streams, and muddy forest footpaths.  When puddling they can remain distracted and allow an observer to approach them for a closer look.  Watch closely at the puddling butterfly when the opportunity presents itself, and observe how it excretes fluids whilst it feeds.  This videoclip below, taken by ButterflyCircle member Loke PF, shows the process of feeding and excreting in a Chocolate Grass Yellow.

The female Chocolate Grass Yellow is typically rarer and may be found feeding at flowering plants.  On the upperside, females have broader black marginal borders where the hindwing border is thicker and inwardly diffuse.  The wings of the females are usually also more rounded when compared to the males. 

The species is a fair-weather butterfly, and normally encountered on bright sunny days rather than on overcast days.   The species can be seasonally common and a number of individuals may be encountered puddling at the same spot.  It is always amazing to see so many individuals of the same species feeding together, and then taking off in a cloud of yellow as one approaches them.  

So we bid farewell to the month of April 2012, and look forward to the remaining eight months of the year as we move closer towards the prophetic 12 Dec 2012 with curiousity and for some, even with a bit of trepidation.  For the rest of us, however, life goes on..

Text by Khew SK : Video by Loke PF : Photos by James Chia, Sunny Chir, Goh LC, Federick Ho, Khew SK, Koh CH, Lim WY & Benjamin Yam