Which way up to read The Map?

It has been suggested that the Common Map butterfly (Cyrestis thyodamas) – also called the Oriental Map – relies for its survival on resting in an upside-down position (1, 2). Or creating the illusion of facing the other way.  If this is indeed the case, then it is not so much a form of camouflage as…

Denizens of the dappled forest: butterflies

Last October (2017) I had the pleasure of spending a few days in a delightful bungalow at Malee’e Nature Lovers Bungalows; a delightful resort, nestled under shadow of Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand’s third highest mountain (2,175 m). The attraction of this temporary abode was that it overlooked a little wood, beside a stream (below). A quiet place where…

Resin bugs: walking sticky traps

Reduvid bugs (Reduvioidea) – of which there are more than 7,000 named species – have evolved a diverse range of structural and behavioral adaptations to enable them to capture prey (4), including the application of sticky substances (“sticky traps”) to their forelegs by so-called resin bugs. Such ‘sticky trap predation’ is known from species in both the…

Bee-flies: the dipteran narwhals

I always enjoy seeing bombyliids (bee-flies). They sound like little helicopters, hovering and buzzing about, and their furry appearance gives them a certain cuteness. They are flies pretending to be bees! Not the easiest of insects to identify from photographs though. This one looks rather like Bombylius posticus, which has a wide Palaearctic distribution, but I am not…

Termites on a trail

I came across these termites moving along a water pipe on the Gully Trail at Wat Tham Pha Plong, Doi Chiang Dao, northern Thailand. The pipes provide water for the monks and their guests at the temple, but they also provide a convenient thoroughfare for the termites, helping them to move through the forest without…

Stingless bees and resin bugs

The peculiar shape of this nest entrance caught my eye. Bees were moving in and out of the trumpet-shaped nest which was located below a large dipterocarp tree, at the foot of Doi Chiang Dao mountain, north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. These waxy nests are constructed by stingless bees (Meliponini tribe of the family Apidae),…

Pompilid spider killer

I came across this magnificent spider wasp (Pompilidae) feeding on nectar from these flowers beside the steps leading up to Wat Tham Pha Plong, Chiang Dao, Thailand. I have come across this pompilid wasp before in northern Thailand (1), but I am still not sure what species it is. With its orange antennae, it looks similar to the…

A tale of two butterflies

This butterfly is Vindula erota erota Fabricius, 1793: the Thai Cruiser. There are both Wet and Dry season forms of this species (1). This occurrence of different types or forms of the same butterfly species, in different seasons, is called ‘seasonal polyphenism’ and has probably evolved as an adaptation to the different environments – and…