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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Insects Are Everywhere

In addition to the butterflies, the bugs in Hong Kong are pretty too. 

While most of the Stink Bugs are dull in other parts of the world, many of them are quite colourful here. 

Although Stink Bugs feed mainly on crops and fruit, sometimes they enjoy a feast of insects too. This Red Stink Bug even managed to catch a big moth. 

The  variety of Beetle species are even more fascinating to me.
Blister Beetle 

To be identified 

Soft-winged Flower Beetle 

This strange looking beetle is one of the Weevils (Snout Beetle) which is famous for their long snout.

They are often overlooked because of their small size (about 8mm long). The long snout is in fact a big mouth for sucking on fruit and other plants. 

The Gold Dust Weevil, however, is much bigger than usual (10-15mm long) and more colourful too. 

The giant Stick Insects are sometimes mistaken for small tree branches, 

even part of a leaf. 

I also find the colour of this Grasshopper refreshing. 

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Colourful caterpillars

The humid sub-tropical climate and rich biodiversity in Hong Kong provides an ideal environment for insects. 

  The abundant food resources have enabled not only the butterflies and moths but also their caterpillars to produce large sized species. This pretty giant caterpillar is the Larva of the Death's-head Hawkmoth.

It is about 10cm long and as thick as a human finger. 

Its jaws (Mandibles) are sharp and strong too. This giant can even bite if threatened.

The Larva of Black-veined Burnet Moth may be small by comparison but makes up for it with pretty colours. 

The patterns on the Common Mime swallowtail butterfly Larva look very artistic to me. 

These bright colours may stand out in the feeding environment but to their predators they are warning signs of “poisonous and stay away”.   

This hairy caterpillar (Larva of Staff Sergeant butterfly) has a well camouflaged colour and still manages to look beautiful.  

The defense system of this Common Mormon swallowtail butterfly Larva is not only unique but also looks cute. 

In addition to the big eyespots, it has two pretty “horns” (Osmeterium), which only come out when threatened (by my camera in this case), and also produces smelly chemicals to repel predators.  

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Rare Swallowtail Butterflies

The Swallowtail butterflies are famous for their wing tails but very few can rival the tail length of this White Dragontail

Evidently, the White Dragontail does not have the typical characteristics of a swallowtail butterfly (i.e large and colourful). In fact, it is the smallest swallowtail in the world with a wingspan of around 4cm.

The colours of the White Dragontail may be dull, but its flight pattern is exceptional----agile and erratic like a dragonfly. It is rare in Hong Kong and can only be found in a small number of locations.  

Another distinctive feature of this butterfly is that the middle part of its forewings is transparent. This is unique in the swallowtail family. 

In contrast, the Common Birdwing is not only among the largest (wingspan upto 16cm) but also the brightest coloured butterflies of the world. 

Unlike the White Dragontail, the Common Birdwing does not have wing tails at all but has angular wings similar to the shape of bird wings. 

Unfortunately, their size and beautiful colours make the Birdwings very popular with butterfly collectors. In Hong Kong, they are the only butterflies listed as a conservation concern. The butterflies and the food plant of their larvae (Indian Birthwort) are protected by law.

Regarding the rarity of butterflies,  I think not many can beat this Common Mormon

Looking carefully, you will find that this butterfly seems to be born with just one wing tail while the other one somehow didn’t develop.  

I have seen tailless polymorphisms before but this butterfly is extraordinary.

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