Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Butterflies of Batanes II

I have long been attempting to post this second part of the Batanes Butterflies, but something seems to be more urgent always. I have uploaded the first few, and i have forgotten all about it. Now i am trying to fill the gap. This trip in Batanes is purposely to look for butterflies, exploratory, and we wouldn't have seen them if we did not courageously decided on a traverse hike from one seashore to another seashore of Sabtang Island through the mountain range. This hike was posted HERE earlier while the first post on butterflies is HERE.

We were almost disappointed at the residential areas near the seashores because it is too windy, the breeze has salt contents and we only saw the tiny blues. In the mountains, it is a different story.

 Top and Bottom: WHITE TIGER
Danaus melanippus edmondii Lesson 1837 
Nymphalidae; Danainae; Danaini

White Tigers are a bit common in that area of the mountain. We saw a few individuals although they are not very cooperative. At least we were able to get these shots.

Mycalesis igoleta igoleta C. & R. Felder 1863
Nymphalidae; Satyrinae

Mycalesis igoleta igoleta C. & R. Felder 1863 (extreme dry season form)
Nymphalidae; Satyrinae

We have lots of this in our area in the province. However, my first look here says it is a different species. Later confirmation by our butterfly expert says it is the same Bushbrown, although the very less discernible spots on both upper and lower wings say it is an extreme dry season form. I have seen Dry Season Forms in my area during this hot conditions, and there still are bigger spots compared to this one. 

Vindula dejone dejone Erichson 1834 
Nymphalidae; Nymphalinae; Heliconiini

This was so high up on trees and didn't give us more chances for pictures. This shot only give us a few details to identify it. It was a worn-out one though, but this is the only one we met on the way. 

Jamides bochus pulchrior Grose-Smith 1895
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

 Top and Bottom 2: LIME BLUE
Chilades lajus athena C. & R. Felder 1865
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

Lime Blue is a lifer for me. My buddy went ahead to the nook as it was already very hot outside, we are bathing in sweat. When this butterfly arrives giving me some difficulty. But despite the heat and itchy feelings from the weeds, i was able to take some photos. It is my first time to see this, a lifer, ; eventually, the Philippine Lepidoptera Group administrator said Batanes is a new location for this find. I am glad i persisted on it and ignored the heat.

 Top and Bottom:  GREAT ORANGE TIP
Hebomoia glaucippe philippensis Wallace 1863
Pieridae; Pierinae

This Orange Tip also gave me a difficult time. It flips and leaves so quickly from a perch that a lot of photos did not give me much descent ones. Moreover, the 2nd perch is so far from the previous spot that it was difficult to follow. I even wonder if the flitting seconds already gave it the chance to get some nectar!

Hebomoia glaucippe philippensis Wallace 1863
Pieridae; Pierinae

Menelaides polytes ledebouria
Papilionidae, Papilioninae, Papilionini

One funny thing about our traverse climb is the presence of this Common Mormon all throughout our hike. It has been there from the beginning and didn't leave us till we were back to where we started. Actually, there are a few of them, and they exchange roles in being on our path. They just fly low and alight low on the weeds. They just seem to be always on our line of sight, and that gave it the title "Guide", our little pet on the way. Sometimes it was gone for a few minutes, then when it appeared again we both said "hi guide".  We even kiddingly said goodbye to it as we leave the mountain and approach the area of humans. 

 Idea leuconoe larva

We also saw lots of paperkites, Idea leuconoe. But they are mostly on top of trees or flying high on areas on the cliffs. They always have the characteristic-dainty-flying white butterflies, but they are mostly in too difficult places for us to photograph. We just content ourselves watching them, and at least we knew they are found in Sabtang, Batanes. 

Autumn Leaf larvae on Pseuderanthemum reticulatum
Doleschallia bisaltide philippensis Fruhstorfer 1899
Nymphalidae; Nymphalinae; Nymphaliini

Butterflies of Batanes

I have visited Batanes for different reasons. The first trip that was eight years ago was an exploratory adventure type. The 3 of us just let anything go, to wherever seems to be the place at that very moment, and it was fun. The second was when i joined a hobbyist photography group, where i know only of a very few people from a previous photowalk. This third and latest travel was with a travel buddy who went there for the first time. And of course, our purpose is to look for butterflies. This is also the reason i experienced a traverse hike to the other side of the mountains, walking through mountain invisible paths that only my travel buddy's feet know where to go. It seems like just a joke now, but for me that hike was endowed with a lot of good luck! To be back home without any incident but some aching legs and mucles is mainly good luck.

So it is but a necessity to be posting here what we were there for: the BUTTERFLIES. In the beginning we felt like maybe we will not see much. It is windy, air is salty, and the islands are really not big. We started first with some spotting in street sidewalks and in church yards where there are some nectar plants.

Part I. 
Many of our first finds are the very small lycaenids exemplified by the Lesser Grass Blue, Zizina otis oriens. They mostly occupy the grasses and weeds  lower than a foot tall, basically just on the ground. Throughout many areas in the 2 islands this Lesser Grass Blue predominates in number. I just wonder if it is a characteristics of the subspecies in Batanes, but they seem to be more grayish and the design not of a very clear detail, as what we have in our area in the mainland Luzon. 

  Clockwise L-R top and bottom: Taractrocera luzonensis, Borbo cinnara, Oriens californica. Skippers are not plenty in Batanes, both in Batan and Sabtang. 

Mimeusemia sp. 
Noctuidae; Agaristinae

 On our last free afternoon in Batan Island, we walked the street to find any clearing where there might be some possible insects, whatever they are. And in a clump of lantana camara luxuriously growing in an open grassland, we found this moth. 

There are many more butterflies we documented, especially from our traverse hike to the other side of the mountain range. But that will be posted in the 2nd part of this topic, as the pictures are already so heavy for just one topic. 

More next time folks. I promise, they are the bigger butterflies!

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