Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cuphea hyssopifolia and Plains Cupid Butterflies

This tiny butterfly which is only 1 to 2 cm long is called Plains Cupid Butterfly (Chilades pandava). It is a widespread and fairly common species in Malaysia. There are swarms of them in my garden. Their caterpillars almost appear as locusts in their feeding frenzies.

 
The underside of the fore and hind wings is greyish brown with transverse darker brown markings. These markings are edged on both sides with white lines. The hind wings have four small dark spots encircled in white.

 
A brown line runs along the outer margin of the wings which is trimmed fine white hairs. Two eye patterns of black rimmed with orange on one side are located on the margin of hindwings, near the tornus. A little tail is attached to each hindwing.

  The eyes are black while the antennae and legs are in black and white. White hairs cover the head, abdomen and thorax. 


Tiny Cuphea hyssopifolia flowers are all over the branches and play hosts to these tiny butterflies.




Flowers are really tiny but still prove irresistible to the tiny butterflies.


Though there many flowers abound but when it set eyes on a particular flower, it gets all the attention.


The 'blue' in its moniker actually refer to the lavender-blue hue on the upper surface of its wings. This is only visible when it spread out its wings while resting or in flight.


Only the males are violet-blue above, whereas their females are pale brown with a flush of blue scales on the basal half of the wings.


This butterfly fluttered from one tiny flower to another.


It landed daintily on the branches and flapped open its ...


wings, revealing the lavender colour on the upperside.
 
This Cycas revoluta always look in such a mutiliated state as their caterpillars love to feed on its young fronds. I'm deciding on whether to continue sacrificing my Cycas for the survival of these tiny butterflies. My Cycas have been in this sorry decade for the better part of a decade.
 


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