Butterflies are important as indicator species, meaning they are among the most sensitive species to respond to diseases and pollution. Since The RIMBA Project found so many of them during our biodiversity survey of Section 12, it's quite obvious that Section 12 is a healthy environment that ably supports many forms of wildlife!
Butterflies are also beautiful creatures in their own right, so we invite you to get personal with the Butterflies of Section 12.
Blues are from the Lycaenidae family, and love sunshine—you can often see their metallic wings darting around, as bright as sunlight! Their colours are not due to pigments, but by the way light falls on the tiny, tiny grooves on the scales of their wings.
As a member of the Danaidae family, the Blue Glassy Tiger has no fear. It stores plant toxins in its haemolymph (or ‘blood’), and its distinctive markings makes it easy for predators to remember them! It has an extremely tough thorax, making it almost impossible to kill by pinching.
Doesn't this Common Mime look like the previous butterfly? It's all in the name! Part of the Papilionidae family which are commonly known as Swallowtails or Birdwings due to their broad forewings. This Mime mimics the poisonous Glassy Blue Tiger. Both butterflies fly showly because predators don't dare attack them!
From the family Nymphalidae, also known as Brush-Footed Butterflies due to its hairy and brush-like forelegs. Although weak and useless for walking, these legs are great sense and taste organs, doubling up as antenna-cleaners!
From the Danaidae family, also known as milkweed butterflies, or Tigers and Crows. These extremely tough butterflies store plant toxins ingested during their time as caterpillars—a bird predator will vomit them up again after 15 minutes!
From the Pieridae family, also known as Whites, Yellows or Sulphurs, due to their colours. The underside of the hindwing is brightly coloured—yellow in the Striped Albatross’ case! The colours are caused by chemical pigments called pterines. This specimen is a male; in the female, the underside of the hindwing is yellow-dusted.
Also a member of the Lycaenidae, known as Blues, Coppers or Hairstreaks due to their shimmering colour. The 'tails' on the hindwing resemble antennae, and together with the markings that look like eyes, predators are confused into thinking that the butterfly is 'back-to-front'!
From the Pieridae family, this medium-sized butterfly has a habit of migration, with reports of migratory swarms in Perak. The Lemon Emigrant has a behaviour of fast flight, and congregates at damp places.
Also part of the Pieridae family, this is the commonest butterfly in the eastern tropics. It is very abundant in the lowlands but can also be found on mountains. The males love bright sunshine and can be found at damp areas such as pools or muddy river banks.
From the Satyridae family, also known as Satyrs and Browns. They are weak fliers, and rely on their dull colours to protect them from predators, and also prefer to fly early in the morning or during evening. They have very delicate wings, losing their scales easily when handled - as shown by this sorry-looking specimen.
The Brown Pansy, like its fellow members of the Nymphalidae family, loves sunshine, and can often be found near flowering plants in parks and forest edges. When at rest, it spreads its wings to 'sunbathe'. Previously only found in Southern Johor and Singapore, this is the first time it's been recorded as being this far up north!
Also from the Nymphalidae family, the Tawny Coster has leathery wings, which suits its adventurous migratory behaviour. its tough thorax can withstand a few pecks from predators, which are also put off by a disgusting chemical which it releases from its glands.
Like other members of the Nymphalidae family, the Peacock Pansy loves the sun, spreading its wings to bask while at rest and flitting out of reach if a predator approaches. Its underside is much duller and resembles a dead leaf, which helps it disappear into its surroundings!
And these are our Butteflies of Section 12 - have you found a favourite or two?
Happiest when surrounded by books, Vanessa Ting finds herself thriving in the no-less-fascinating world of conservation biology. This mostly involves exponential (learning and topographical) curves, tagging behind ardent, energetic botanists and zoologists. She can be reached at email@example.com.