12 March 2017

About Butterflies - Talk at Seletar Country Club

About Butterflies
Talk by Foo JL at Seletar Country Club

Bright sunshine and blue skies greeted me on this beautiful Saturday morning as I made my way to the Seletar Country Club for a talk - “About Butterflies” by Mr Foo Jit Leang, the founder of the Butterfly Garden at Seletar Country Club. The Seletar Country Club (SCC) is an 18-hole golf and recreation club set right in the heart of the Singapore countryside. With rolling acres of lush greenery, it is strategically located on a hill overlooking the Lower Seletar Reservoir and the Johor Straits.

The Butterfly Garden was the brainchild of the founder, Mr Foo Jit Leang, who turned a small patch of greenery adjacent to the golf course into a vibrant ecological masterpiece of biodiversity that features 112 species of butterflies in March this year. On a good sunny day, a visitor can expect to see at least 25-30 different species of butterflies fluttering amongst the nectaring and caterpillar host plants that have been specially cultivated to attract butterflies to the garden.

At the scheduled time of 9:30am for Mr Foo's talk, the audience slowly turned up on this lazy Saturday morning, and soon the Seletar CC Auditorium was almost filled to capacity. The crowd of over 80 was mainly made up of families with young children - all with a common interest and love for nature and butterflies.

Mr Foo started his talk by educating the audiences on how to differentiate between a butterfly and a moth and the misconceptions about them. In general, butterflies have thin slender filamentous antennae which are club-shaped at the end. Moths, on the other hand, have curly, comb-like or feathery antennae, often filamentous and unclubbed.

Another common erroneous assumption about butterflies and moths is that all butterflies are colourful, whilst moths are dull and unattractive. Not all moths are dull in colour, some moths come in beautiful colours and are even more attractive than some butterflies. Some butterflies, on the other hand are drably-coloured and appear very plain and boring.

Mr Foo went on to talk about planting the appropriate species of nectaring and caterpillar host plants to attract certain species of butterflies. It was important to have a wide variety of plants in the garden to encourage a diversity of species to visit and lay eggs on their specific host plants for their caterpillars to feed on. There must also be adequate nectaring (flowering) plants to sustain the adult butterflies which feed on the nectar from the flowers of these plants.

At the end of his talk, Mr Foo invited the crowd to the SCC Butterfly Garden where he showed them the various types of caterpillars and pupae that were on display. The curious crowd gathered around to have a good look. They were fascinated by what they saw, especially the more interesting looking caterpillars of the Blue Nawab, Short Banded Sailor butterflies and the caterpillar of the Inchworm moth. The children were particularly awed by the diversity of colours, shapes and sizes of these caterpillars that would one day turn into beautiful butterflies.

What came next was what everyone was looking forward to, to get up close with the flying jewels – the beautiful butterflies! The highlight of the event would have to be the release of the butterflies, this drew everyone’s attention and the crowd gathered around in excitement. A few lucky kids even got their chance to release some recently-eclosed butterflies to their newfound freedom and to watch the butterflies flutter happily away!

Nets were also provided for the crowd to have some hand-on experience to capture the butterflies for a closer look. Kids were especially excited and ran around chasing the butterflies. Mr Foo and the other members of the SCC Butterfly garden were on hand to guide the kids to handle the nets gently and to ensure that no butterflies were harmed when capturing them. After taking a closer look at the butterflies, they were released into the garden again.

The Butterfly Garden was filled with fun, joy and laughter. I am truly happy to see so many parents who took the time to bring their children to this event and let them have more opportunities to be out in the nature. I hope that this event will spark their interest to do their part to care for our environment and the conservation of butterflies for everyone to enjoy!

Text by Loh Mei Yee : Photos by Janice Ang, Foo JL, Khew SK, Loh Mei Yee and Or Cheng Khim