Bougainvillea, food plant for the Lime Butterfly

posted in: Butterflies and Moths, Fauna | 2

It was a hot evening and the sun was shining over my pot of Bougainvillea plant. Suddenly I noticed a lone Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus malayanus) flitting from flower to flower. The butterfly was always on the move, never stopping for long on the flowers, making photography difficult. It was definitely sipping nectar from the flowers (above, below). This went on for about 5 minutes before it flew off.

Singapore’s Garden City has long depended on Bougainvillea to provide colours to the greenery. These scrambling plants regularly burst into blooms after a prolonged drought.

The colourful “flowers” are actually the three petaloid bracts (above), each bearing a whitish tubular flower (below, with 3 of the 5 stamens showing).

I have often heard locals commenting that this plant, although colourful, are sterile as far as wildlife is concerned. Well not actually. All plants have their very own complement of fauna and these in turn attract birds. In addition, the flowers provide nectar to birds LINK.

Not many butterflies are attracted to bougainvilleas. From the internet I uncovered two sites – LINK 1 and LINK 2.

YC Wee
July 2015

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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.

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