Wednesday, April 4, 2018

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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