Autumn Leaf butterfly: 1. Caterpillars feeding

on 12th January 2016

In mid-December 2015, Maryann Vitudio brought a bunch of the creeping Common Asystasia, also known as Coromandel (Asystasia gangetica, previously known as A. coromandeliana) with about a dozen Autumn Leaf (Doleschallia bisaltide) caterpillars actively feeding on the leaves.

The caterpillars are colourful with their white-black-orange colours coupled with tinges of blue. Together with the many spiky projections, they appear threatening (top). Indeed, these are warning colours and birds generally leave them alone.

Once you get used to their appearance, they can be rather endearing. Check out the video above as they move around feeding on their food plant, the Common Asystasia.

Most of these caterpillars were in their final instar and about to pupate. They were wandering around the plants restlessly, not being able to move away as the pot was in a basin of water (video above).

Two caterpillars disappeared one afternoon, making me speculate that despite their warning colouring and spiky projections, some birds ate them up. That was until I found one pupating under a chair (above), with its mass of discarded old skin lying on the floor beneath (below).

So the caterpillars did manage to cross the water barrier. I suspect they moved to the table surface as the branch they were feeding on bent downwards due to their weight and touched the table surface.

YC Wee & Maryann Vitudio
January 2016

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.

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