Monday, 28 April 2008

Blues & related forms- Part 1

I have decided to take all Blues and related forms seriously. They are butterflies belonging to the family Lycaenidae, the second largest buttefly family in the world with over 6,000 species—which accounts for nearly 40 % of the known species of butterflies. With 85 species, they represent over 1/3 of the total number of species of butterflies in Sri Lanka. Also referred as lycaenids by the serious types, these butterflies are characterised by their metallic colours: mostly blue in the upper sides, quick flight and sun-loving nature.

Blues can pose serious ID challenges similar to LBJs in birding due to their diminutive nature, and subtle inter species differences—often a few tiny spots marking the difference between similar looking ones. Therefore, when confronted with these tiny flying puzzles, most naturalists resort to a convenient escape route to loosely lump them all as "blues" or "lycaenids," without putting the effort to narrow their idenitifcations down to species level. To be honest, I was one of these until very recently.

For them, I have now started to use the same method that I use to learn dragonflies and damselflies: (macro) photograph them first, look them up in various sources to identify them myself first before getting my results verified by experts. Although the first aspect could be daunting at times, I find this method to be the best one to learn such tough groups of insects properly.

Here I list a few Lycaenids photographed at various locations including at my home garden. I’d like to thank the entomologist Michael van der Poorten, who is working on a book on butterflies of Sri Lanka, for taking the time to confirm my identifications; I got six right and 1 wrong!

Oh! And I also share here my geek score. Isn't this a fitting occation do so ? How about yours?

30% Geek

Tiny Grass Blue Zizula hylax
Tiny Grass Blue - male at my home garden
Tiny Grass Blue Zizula hylax Tiny Grass Blue - mating at my home garden Common Hedge Blue Actyolepis pushpa felderi

Common Hedge Blue at Sinharaja Metallic Cerulean Jamides alecto

Metallic Cerulean Common Cerulean Jamides celeno

Common Cerulean at my home garden Plains Cupid Chilades pandava

Plains Cupid African Babul Blue Azanus jesous

African Babul Blue Lesser Grass Blue Zizina otis

Lesser Grass Blue Yamfly Loxura atymnus
Yamfly at my home garden Common Pierrot Castalius rosimon
Common Pierrot at my home garden


Anonymous said...

Great shots - as usual!

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

You find the most interesting things to write about. Your pictures are beautiful! The last one is very different from anything around here.

Oh, and I am 39% geek. Eeeek! ;-)

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Java
Thanks a lot! Very nice to hear such lovely comments.

Hi Lin,
Thanks! I bet you too have a pretty good diversity of Blues over there. I quite like the colours of the Pierrots. I haven’t seen many pictures of Blues in nature blogs that I check regularly. So I’d love to see some of your ones. And thanks for sharing your geek score! What can I say Lin, I am truly impressed!!

Chrissy said...

Wow, great shots.....I am continually impressed by your photography as the photos and their subject matter is quite impressive. I am going to post a dragonfly captured with a little digital camera on my blog next Monday, just for you, as your earlier post inspired me.

Amila Salgado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amila Salgado said...

Hi Chrisss,
Thanks a lot! I very happy to hear your lovely comments. Nice to know that you have photographed a dragonfly. I look forward to seeing it. I am glad that my dragonfly post inspired you! This must be a good time for them over there.

Yesterday I photographed 4 dragonfly species at my home garden - same old species. Several Blues were spotted but only one Tiny Grass Blue obliged.

Jochen said...

67% Geek!

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Jochen,
Wow! that's an impressive score!
I value your courage sharing this!!

Mel said...

Great post Ami!
The pictures are amazing! I don't have such variety around me, but I'll look for it on other places of my country :)

Amila Salgado said...

Thanks Mel!
I bet you have a good diversity of these in Peru. Good luck!

Nora said...

Hi Amila, these are lovely, I think we have some similar ones ..the ones around right now here are the Spring Azure or Celastrina ladon...they are lovely and bright blue right now.

Larry said...

I am 30% geek also. I use the same method for identifying bird species that I'm uncertain of. I'm just starting to get into the butterfly identification mode in the last year or two.-Great photos!

Nora said...

Forgot to say that I am 47% geek, probably not a good thing!!!

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Ocean,
I am sure your home garden must have a decent diversity of Blues this Spring. Nice of you to share your geek score. It is such a silly little test, so no worries!

Hi Larry,
So we have a few things in common! Nice to know that you use the same method to identify difficult birds. Studying butterflies and such smaller forms of life is great fun. Thanks a lot for your encouraging comments on my photos.

Texas Travelers said...

I love blues. They are a real challenge. Hard to get the exposure and color just right.

Nice job,

Texas Travelers said...

Interesting test. I'm 74% Geek. Is that good or bad?

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Troy,
You sure sound like someone who has worked with Blues! Nice to know you love them. I bet you have a pretty good diversity of these this time of the year. Wow! That is a good geek score! I am very impressed!!

ST said...

very nice, must be great having good light nearly all the time.

Ana Cristina said...

Hi, very nice pics! Thanks for sharing...
Regards from Portugal

Amila Salgado said...

Hi ST,
Thanks! Yes that's an advantage living in the tropics. And lots of rain, which I do not enjoy...!

Hi Ana,
Thanks for dropping by. I am glad to hear your comments. You have a very nice blog!

Texas Travelers said...

For something different.

We have posted:
Alaska's Haul Road - The Dalton Highway.
A 414 mile gravel road,
to the Arctic Ocean

Come join us for the trip,
Troy and Martha

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