The weather forecast promised some clouds, so off I bounded to Hort Park despite it already nearing noontime. Armed with my camera and a reliably terrible sense of direction, I was soon on the treetop walk heading away from the park. It was nice too, though. Perhaps that’ll be an adventure for next time.
I was going to dedicate just one post to the park, but realised when digging through my photos that it had so much to offer (or perhaps that I had so much free time on my hands) that I had enough material for one about the insects, and one about the plants. Like a true scientist, I’ll get the bugs out of the way first.
What actually attracted me to Hort Park for this particular photo run was the fact that it has a butterfly garden. By virtue of having a different set of host plants, it had a number of new species I’d never spotted at the One-North butterfly garden. The plain tiger butterflies (Danaus chrysippus chrysippus) were the most prominent, partly also because they were the most numerous. This form, with white hindwings, is known as alcippoides (as opposed to chrysippus, which has orange hindwings).
This blue glassy tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina) had a tendency to rest with its wings together, only occasionally stretching them open briefly. It took a long while before I managed to capture a shot of it with wings spread.
There was a leopard butterfly (Phalanta phalantha phalantha), which didn’t stay for long, but unlike the blue glassy tiger, preferred to bask with its wings open.
This little pygmy grass blue (Zizula hylax pygmaea) absolutely refused to stay still for more than a few seconds. I had to stalk it for quite a while before it finally posed for a shot. As its name suggests, it’s really tiny and adorable. There are three main types of grass blues in Singapore, with the lesser grass blue being the most common. You can tell that this one’s a pygmy grass blue due to the V-shaped blotch near the tip of the forewing.
And then there was the mottled emigrant (Catopsilia pyranthe pyranthe), a large white butterfly, which also refused to land much at all. When it did, it preferred to stand at its resting spot, wings together. The underside of the butterfly is a pale green that helps it camouflage nicely, and made it very difficult to find through the camera. I’m glad that I followed it around though- mottled emigrants are apparently the rarest of the Catopsilia species in Singapore, and can be distinguished by the reddish-brown transverse striae on the underside. In the case of this individual, they were rather faint, but nonetheless visible.
Away from the butterfly garden, there was a little palm dart near a clump of palms. Palm darts of the Telicota genus can be quite difficult to distinguish, but I think this is a common palm dart (Telicota colon stinga). One thing I’ve noticed about palm darts is that despite their quick flight, they do tend to stay quite still when they land, and don’t scare very easily.
I’m not sure if I’ve identified this one correctly. I think it’s a common palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra agina), although the mottling patterns don’t seem to resemble others online, and honestly, it was flying too fast and too far away from me to figure out what its upperside looks like. I did find it flying around the same clump of palms though, so I’ll just assume this is what it is.
Butterflies aside, a brown dragonfly caught my eye by the way it flapped its wings at rest- not a smooth fluid motion, but a couple of rigid, stepwise ratchets that made it look like a toy. Dragonflies are fast fliers, so it’s comparably harder to study them. Could be a spine-tufted skimmer (Orthetrum chrysis), though I can’t be sure.
And of course, with all those flowers around, there were bound to be some bees, which loved the coral vine (Antigonon leptopus), aptly named the bee bush in most Caribbean islands. Again, I’m not absolutely sure (clearly not an entomologist here), but I do believe this is an Asian honey bee (Apis cerana): it wasn’t very small (not the dwarf), it wasn’t very large (not the giant), and it had distinct black bands (so theoretically, not the European).
This was probably the most rewarding insect photo run I’ve had- it’s nice to peacefully co-exist with them, rather than being bitten or pierced, or from their perspective, squished. Ideally, somewhere in our evolutionary biology, the fact that many of these insects look so pretty would invoke respect and protective instincts in mankind, just as flowers should. Unfortunately, mankind has a tendency to decorate ourselves and homes with pretty things, which means plucked flowers, feathers, and furs. City dwellers, away from nature, often forget how fragile the ecological balance is, and how dependent we still are on it. Calls for conservation and environmental protection have echoed across the world, but it is tragic indeed that some are either deaf to it, or bent on ensuring that these echoes reverberate emptily and powerlessly in the face of human greed and ignorance.