Proliferation of Dryas iulia on St. John’s Island, Singapore

Wong Kais was at St. John’s and Lazaru Islands on 3 December 2021. It was a cloudy day with occasional gusts of wind. He noticed a proliferation of bright orange butterflies and decided to photograph them. Most of the photographs were taken on Lazarus Island where Tridax procumbens (coat buttons or tridax lily) and Asystasia gangetica (Chinese violet or coromandel) were in flower. They were also seen feeding on lantanas in other parts of Lazarus and St. John’s Islands.

Dryas iulia is also known as the Julia butterfly and Julia Heliconian.  It belongs to the Nymphalidae family, also nick-named the brush-footed butterfly for the short pair of front legs which are heavily covered with hairs. They are native to Brazil, Florida and Southern Texas.  The species is known to have been introduced to Thailand and spread to Malaysia. They were first seen in Hort Park, Singapore in June 2021, according to documentations in Butterflycircle Facebook.

Photo 1. Dryas iulia with wings spread out and the characteristic markings clearly displayed. Dorsal view.
Photo 2. Another view of the wings displayed. Dorsal view.
Photo 3. Hairs on the dorsal side of the head. The compound eyes are clearly visible on either side of the head.
Photo 4. Markings on wings, ventral view. A light red line is seen on the leading edge of fore wings. A red patch is also visible on the wing.
Photo 5. The red line and patch on the wings are clearly visible. Ventral view.
Photo 6. The dark line markings on the fore wings, dorsal view.
Photo 7. Dark patterns on edge of posterior edge of wings, dorsal view.
Photo 8. Dark markings on posterior edge of wings, dorsal view.
Photo 9. Ventral view of Dryas iulia feeding on Tridax procumbens.
Photo 10. Another ventral view of Dryas iulia feeding on Tridax procumbens.
Photo 11. Angled perspective of Dryas iulia feeding on Tridax procumbens. The thin proboscis is bent perpendicularly to collect nectar.
Photo 12. Tridax procumbens flowers and 2 Dryas iulia flitting between flowers.
Photo 13. Feeding on Asystasia gangetica.
Photo 14. Dryas iulia obtaining nectar from Asystasia gangetica.
Photo 15. Dorsal view of Dryas iulia feeding on Asystasia gangetica.
Photo 16. Two Dryas iulia butterflies mating. They remained in this position and were unperturbed by disturbances around them.
Photo 17. Remnants of wings seen after a momentary glimpse of a gecko that darted away.

The photographer did not notice any caterpillars on day of photography.

 

Article by Teo Lee Wei

  1. Soh Kam Yung

    The correct scientific name for the butterfly is Dryas iulia, not Dryas uilia.

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