The Common Caerulean (Jamides celeno aelianus)
A mating pair of Common Caeruleans perched on a blade of grass
Following up on the theme of astrological (or zodiac) signs for this year's Butterfly of the Month series, we continue with the next astrological sign that corresponds with the month of the year. We featured Capricorn in the previous month 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.
Aquarius is the eleventh astrological sign in the zodiac. People born between and including January 20 and February 18 belong to this zodiac sign. Aquarius (♒︎) (Greek: Υδροχόος, romanized: Ydrochóos, Latin for "water-bearer") is often represented by an image of a woman (or a young boy) carrying a pitcher from which she pours out water.
Personal independence is one of the greatest strengths an Aquarius can have — as they have a visionary intellectual perspective on life, people and the world. Aquarians are visionaries, progressive souls who love to spend time thinking about how things can be better. They are also quick to engage others in this process, which is why they have so many friends and acquaintances. Making the world a better place is a collaborative effort for Aquarians.
Common Caeruleans feeding on a variety of flowers
Aquarians often tend to be quite popular, as they crave social interactions. Their friendly demeanor can aid them in building a wide network of acquaintances and contacts. Stubbornness in ideas can be the cornerstone of difficulty for an Aquarius. While it can, on one hand, give them a great deal of strength when channeled properly, it can also create alienation and conflict. Many Aquarians despise being caged and will go to great degrees of rebellion and unpredictable behavior in order to not be confined.
A Common Caerulean feeding on the flower of the Singapore Daisy
Our feature butterfly for the month of February 2023 is the Lycaenidae Common Caerulean (Jamides celeno aelianus). A small but common butterfly, the Common Caerulean is widely distributed across many habitats in Singapore, and can sometimes be seen in numbers where they thrive. Often seen at the forest edges of our nature reserves and even in suburban parks and gardens, the Common Caerulean flies restlessly at low levels amongst shrubbery and grassy areas.
A group of 5 Common Caeruleans feeding on the flowers of the Red Tree Shrub
This species is one of several lookalikes in the genus Jamides and identifying them with certainty is often a challenge unless one can take a photograph of the individual up-close and be able to ascertain the diagnostic markings to distinguish the ID of the species. As they fly erratically and sometimes for long periods of time, one has to be patient in the field to wait for them to stop and rest before approaching carefully to try to identify the species.
A Common Caerulean puddling at a muddy footpath
The Common Caerulean is a bright metallic blue on the upperside, with a thin black marginal border in the males whilst females are almost whitish with a broad black border on both wings. The underside is a buff-grey with the typical white striation of the genus across both the fore- and hindwings. As a member of the celeno sub-group, the post-discal band on the forewing is continuous from vein 3 to 7. It has a white-tipped filamentous tail at vein 2 of the hindwing and a large orange-crowned eyespot on the underside of the hindwing.
The species is relatively common and often seen feeding at flowering plants as well as the occasional individual observed puddling at muddy footpaths or bird droppings. The Common Caerulean stops on the top surfaces of leaves to rest, with their wings folded upright. It is very rare to come across an individual with its wings spread open to sunbathe. The species also rubs its hindwings when at rest, to trick predators into attacking its tailed hindwing.
The Common Caerulean's life history has been successfully recorded in Singapore, and the caterpillars feed on a variety of host plants like Pueraria phaseoloides (Fabaceae), Combretum sundaicum (Combretaceae) and Vigna reflexopilosa (Fabaceae).
Text by Khew SK : Photos by David Chan, Chng CK, Khew SK, Koh CH, Loh MY, Low JK, Bobby Mun and Mark Wong
Reference : Life History of the Common Caerulean