on 24th September 2014

“The Striped Albatross (Appias libythea olferna, family Pieridae, subfamily Pierinae) is a common butterfly species in Singapore and does occur in urban habitats (Khew, 2010). This species is sexually dimorphic, so the males and females adorn themselves with different ‘costumes’.

“On the afternoon of 16th August 2014, I was privileged to witness the private moment of a mating pair in a public park. The chivalrous male had gently enveloped the female’s wings with his, somewhat equivalent to hugging in humans. Their fused abdomens were not visible as they were concealed behind closed wings (above).

“As the butterflies were bound to each other, they seemed to be entranced by the spellbinding singing of the cicadas in the background. Slowly but surely, the cicada song ascended to its climax, celebrating the warm union between two butterflies that did not merely pass each other by.

“A video clip of this mating pair may be previewed here:”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
19th September 2014

Khew, S. K., 2010. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Singapore. Ink on Paper Communications Pte Ltd, Singapore. xxv + 342 pp.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this. As with many of our own observations by ButterflyCircle members, for this species (the Striped Albatross), it is the male that does the flying when it is mated to the female. In the case of other species, it is the female that does the flying. Field observations are currently being recorded for as many species as possible with regard to whether it is the male or female that carries the burden of flying when the pair is attached. Obviously, both cannot fly simultaneously! So one partner is usually the passive one, whilst the other does all the flying for both of them.

  2. To document behaviour as in mating in this case is one step forward from just photographing the butterfly. Checking out whether it is the male or the female who does the flying when both are still attached is going deeper into the subject.Thanks for this new perspective of butterfly studies.

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