Lime Butterfly and its host tree Clausena excavata

posted in: Fauna | 3

“On 17th April, I noticed that there were a few caterpillars on a Pink Lime-berry tree (Clausena excavata) while watering my plants in the afternoon. [Note: this tree can easily be mistaken as the Indian Curry Tree (Murraya koenigii).] On previous occasions, I never had the chance to see them turning into butterflies. The caterpillars were probably eaten by birds. This time I decided that I should keep a few of them protected from predators. For good measure I kept four just in case some of them may not develop successfully for other reasons. The image below-left shows one that is in the 3rd instar.

“The caterpillars were kept in a container with a small ventilation opening. Fresh leaves were used and frass (droppings) cleared daily. By 22nd April one of them were in the 5th instar (above-right).

“The above image was taken on 23rd April showing three 5th instar caterpillars.

“The above-left image, taken on 24th April showing one that has stopped feeding and remained dormant on the side wall of the container. By 26th April the caterpillar had spun silkpad on the side wall (above-right). It had become immobile as a pre-pupatory larva.

“By the next day it had become a green pupa (above-left). On 28th April another caterpillar attached itself to the side wall of the container (above-right).

“At about 7.15 am on 5th May, yellow spots and bands became visible on the first pupa. By about 8.30 am, the eclosion was completed with the butterfly resting just at the side of the exoskeleton of the second pupa (above). The latter was found, unfortunately, to have body fluid stain on the wall below the pupa a few days earlier, probably the sign of attack by parasites. The butterfly was released soon after it was ready to fly (below).

“The series of images clearly show that a Lime Buttefly (Papilio demoleus malayanus) has emerged from the pupa that fed on leaves of the Pink Lime-berry tree.”

Note: unless otherwise stated, all images were taken at around 9 am in the morning.

Sun Chong Hong
5th May 2014

3 Responses

  1. Liao Weijie

    Lovely account and documentary

    • Sun Chong Hong

      Thanks for the compliments. Credit also to the editor/admin.

      • You are being modest… There is generally no need to edit your submissions.

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