Tuesday,March 24, 2020

Butterflies of the Philippines

Like flowers in graceful flight, butterflies are valued more than just their iconic beauty. They are also indicators of biodiversity, clean air, and healthy habitat. They also play a critical role in ecosystem restoration as pollinator for plant propagation and food source for a wide range of predators and parasites.


Around 90% of butterflies inhabit tropical areas like the Philippines, where about 360 endemic species still thrive. Like the endangered Philippine Eagle or Philippine Tamaraw, all the Philippine butterflies, though they may seem insignificant because of their size and short life, also deserve our protection. The call to protect their habitats in different regions of the Philippine islands merits biodiversity.

Butterfly Species found in the Philippines


Whites, Yellows, Sulphurs, Pierids

COLORS: white, yellow, orange, or with black patterns

DESCRIPTION: small to medium size; exhibits mud-puddling behaviour where groups gather on damp ground to feed on mineral. The most common of these butterflies are the Catopsilias and Euremas that feed on Cassia trees.


Metalmarks, Riodinids

COLORS: iridescent and diverse

DESCRIPTION: long antennae for their size and usually perch with their wings opened flat; body hairs tend to group into clusters on raised bumps along the body. Resembling closely the Lycaenids, the Riodinids have previously been identified as part of the Lycaedinae family. There are only 8 identified species in the Philippines.


Nymphs, Brush footed butterflies

COLORS: vary greatly in size, color, pattern and shape

DESCRIPTION: ranging from small to large; reduced pair in front legs covered with dense hair.A large and diverse family of butterflies with around 5,000 species worldwide, divided into many subfamilies, including Libytheinae, Danainae, and Satyrinae.


Papilios, Swallowtails, Birdwings

COLORS: vary greatly in color and wing patterns

DESCRIPTION: medium to large size; strong flyers with brilliant colourful wings in different shapes and patterns.The largest of these Philippine papilios are the Menelaides memnon, the Troides magellanus and the  Trogonoptera trojana, while the smallest of the Papilio is the Lamproptera meges (the Blue-green Dragontail), seen in most forest reserves and the Lamproptera curius (the White Dragontail) observed only in Palawan.


Skippers, Darters or Hesperids

COLORS: light yellow to very dark brown; with shades of white and orange band patterns or spots on some species

DESCRIPTION: small to medium size with fat bodies and sharply angled forewings; rapid or jerky flight.Skippers often mistaken for moths because of their size and dull colors.


Lycaenids, Gossamer Wings, The Blues

COLORS: metallic blue, purple, orange-brown or green

DESCRIPTION: described as the thumbnail butterflies because of their small size; rapid and erratic flight; often found in forests closed to the ground.Some species have wings with false head patterns to confuse predators. Out of 346 recorded species of Lycaenids,136 are endemic to the Philippines.

The latest discovered Appias phoebe nuydai (2019) is among six subspecies under the Appias phoebe, which was first collected in the mountains of Luzon in 1861. The other subspecies were found in South and North Luzon, Northwest Mindanao, North Negros, South Palawan, and Mindoro.


*********Sources and further Readings**********

Source: Sarikulay….Philippine Butterfly Tapestry (2019 Calendar of BMB and Philippine Butterfly Habitat Conservation Society)