on a Tuesday but this one was a public holiday. I was in luck. I saw
all four species of our flos butterflies, a family I have become rather
obsessed with. The flos are a group of forest-dwelling lycaenids that
have wonderful colours. All are skittish insects and are strong fliers.
One of the species I encountered was the Darky Plushblue, the least
common of the lot. This is a male.
The darky plushblue is deep umber underneath, with a series
of paler bands that are covered in metallic scales, reflecting
shades of blue and violet at certain angles. They are rarely
observed but are attracted to fruiting melestoma bushes. While
the termen (outer edge) of the forewing in the female is rounded,
the males' are straight.
I was fortunate enough to observe a few individuals, as opposed
to the usual single specimen. From afar, their brilliant colours are
actually inconspicuous and dull, only illuminating with the extra light
from a camera flash. On top, they are even more spectacular. Even
the female, the often duller gender, has a glowing violet upperside.
My luck with shooting the fantastic uppersides ended with that
female, who was basking in the cool morning air. As for the male,
whose upperside is extensively ultramarine with a thin black border,
I managed only this glimpse.
However, in flight, these colours are once again hidden. They
seem black when they fly and do not flash their gaudy wings. Perhaps
this is because the blue that we see is a result of the wing scales'
micro structure and not pigment. As always, the most spectacular
butterflies have to be the shyest. Here are some of the "record
shots" I earned from hours of chasing them in the sweltering heat.
You can get a rough idea of its size by comparing it against
the fly. Here it is feeding on a melastoma fruit; a butterfly magnet.
This was the first time I had seen this lovely jewel. It is really
quite something to see a new species, as even though I have
drooled over others' pictures of the darky plushblue, nothing
comes close to actually seeing it. It seems to be doing well at
its colony at the moment and I hope the presence of their caterpillar
host plant keeps them around.