29 March 2023

Butterfly of the Month - March 2023

Butterfly of the Month - March 2023
The Golden Royal (Pseudotajuria donatana donatana)

The month of March (at least two-thirds of it) belongs to the astrological sign Pisces. If you are born between 19 February and 20 March, your zodiac sign is Pisces. We featured Capricorn and Aquarius in the preceding Butterfly of the Month blogposts and will now move into the next in the series. The 12 zodiac signs are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.

Pisces (♓︎) (/ˈpaɪsiːz/;[2][3] Ancient Greek: Ἰχθύες Ikhthyes, Latin for "fishes") is the twelfth and final astrological sign in the zodiac. The Pisces sign is represented by a pair of fish and associated with the element of water. "Pisces" is the Latin word for "fishes." It is one of the earliest zodiac signs on record, with the two fish appearing as far back as c. 2300 BC on an Egyptian coffin lid.

A female Golden Royal feeding on the flower of Ixora javanica

Pisces personalities are known for being one of the most empathetic of the zodiac signs, and they'll do their best to make sure the people around them are comfortable, happy and at peace. They're also highly artistic and use their creative imaginations to come up with innovative ideas that not many can dream of.

A male Golden Royal puddling

Those born under the Pisces sign may seem aloof and introverted but they are incredibly strong and have a very strong sense of right and wrong. Their moral compass, along with good sense of feeling and situational awareness, guides them well. However, they adopt a "live-and-let-live" approach towards others and are often neutral and non-judgemental.

We feature a very rare Lycaenidae species, the Golden Royal (Pseudotajuria donatana donatana) as this month's Butterfly of the Month. Sightings of this species have been few and far between, until in the past two years, where observations of the butterfly became more regular and often, particularly in the vicinity of Southern Ridges' nature parks. At times, even up to 3 or 4 individuals of the Golden Royal have been spotted, usually feeding on the flowers of the Common Ivy Palm (Arthrophyllum diversifolium) tree.

Underside and upperside of a female Golden Royal

The male of the Golden Royal is shining blue above with broad black borders on both wings. The female is of a lighter blue with the colour confined mainly to the wing bases.  The underside is a rich golden yellow with the forewing unmarked. The hindwing has large black tornal spots and are edged generously with metallic green scaling.  There are two white-tipped filamentous tails at veins 1b and 2 of the hindwing.

Underside and upperside of a male Golden Royal

The Golden Royal has a rapid erratic flight and is skittish and alert. However, when feeding on flowering plants, it can be approached more easily. Males of the species are sometimes observed puddling at damp muddy footpaths in the forested nature reserves. Females are usually observed feeding at various flowering plants including Ixora javanica Common Ivy Palm and Mile-A-Minute.

A Golden Royal feeding at the flowers of the Common Ivy Palm
A newly eclosed Golden Royal hanging onto its pupal case

In Singapore, the Golden Royal has been successfully bred on its caterpillar host plant.  So far only one larval host plant has been identified. This plant is the Oval-leaved Mistletoe (Viscum ovalifolium), a relatively rare parasitic plant in Singapore. On this plant, the early stages of the Golden Royal feed on the flower buds, fruits and leaves, with a strong preference for flower buds in the early few instars.

Text by Khew SK : Photos by Gavin Chan, Khew SK, Loh MY, Loke PF and Horace Tan