The Leopard (Phalanta phalantha phalantha, family Nymphalidae, subfamily Heliconiinae) is a relatively common butterfly species in Singapore and may be found in secondary growth within urban parks and gardens (Khew, 2010). It is known to be restless and skittish, constantly on the move.
On the morning of 20th September 2014, I was able to observe an individual of this species in the middle of a lotus pond (top, above). It had landed upon the mature seed pod of the lotus and seemed particularly keen to linger a little longer. With its proboscis fully extended, it was busily licking the surface for a few minutes. What could the butterfly possibly be obtaining from this prolonged visit? Perhaps the lotus seed pod may contain certain minerals which the plant has been able to extract from the muddy substratum underwater.
A video clip of this butterfly licking away at the lotus seed pod may be previewed below.”
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
20th October 2014
Khew, S. K., 2010. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Singapore. Ink on Paper Communications Pte Ltd, Singapore. xxv + 342 pp.