Pale Grass Blue and its nectarine plant, the Sweet Basil

posted in: Butterflies and Moths, Fauna | 0

The Pale Grass Blue (Zizeeria maha serica) is a small exotic butterfly that was discovered in Singapore in 2001. It has since spread to many parts of the main island. These butterflies appear in the early morning and remain around until late afternoon. They are more active and more are seen when the sun is out. The image above shows a pair locked in copulation perching on a flower of the Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis). They remain together for a few seconds before disconnecting and flying off.

These butterflies are attracted to the flowers of the Sweet Basil (Ocimun basilicum). They dart around chasing each other before landing on the flowers. Sometimes a pair may land on an inflorescence, each picking a flower to feed on (above).

Once on the flower, it’s coiled proboscis (above) uncoils and the tip probes deep into the flower (below). It may stay up to 25 seconds feeding on the nectar. But most times the visits are short, possibly because the nectar content has been depleted by earlier feedings.

The Pale Grass Blue lands on the flower with its wings folded but sometimes its wings may unfold to varying degrees to reveal the delicate design of the upper wing surfaces (see second image from top). When leaving the flower, it may also unfolds its wings slightly before flying off, but mostly it flies off without displaying the dorsal surface of the pair of wings.

The leaves of Sweet Basil give off a characteristic pleasant smell, especially when it is hot, and this may have attracted these butterflies. After all, they have a keen sense of smell.

The Sweet Basel, also attracts the Cycad Blue (Chilades pandava pandava) LINK.

YC Wee
Singapore
May 2014

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