Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve (鳳園蝴蝶保育區) is one of my must-visit locations every time I get back to Hong Kong in the summer (you can find my blog post from last year here). The reserve near Tai Po is not only a great place for butterfly lovers, it holds a wide variety of wildlife, particularly insects.
Looking at lepidoptera:
The reserve provides a home to more than 200 species of butterflies –
Within the second phase of the reserve various rattan and other plant species suitable for tiger caterpillars are planted, making this part of the reserve a great place to spot different tiger species –
The Lycaenid species on the wing in abundance at the moment is the Plains Cupid 曲紋紫灰蝶. Every year I find them around the Sago palm 蘇鐵 (Cycas revoluta) in Phase 1, as that is the caterpillar’s host plant –
The most unique looking butterfly in Hong Kong is the White Dragontail. The butterfly’s appearance is often described as a gentleman in a black swallow-tailed coat. Its caterpillar is known to be very choosy when it comes to food, feeding only on the leaves of the Illigera species. The White Dragontail is the smallest swallowtail in the world and flies like a dragonfly. This particular individual drank right by my feet, using me to shield itself from any patrolling dragonflies that chased other flying insects off, even forcing the Chocolate Pansy off its perch. The butterfly was drinking and peeing at the same time – pumping water straight through its body, perhaps to cool down under the scorching sun –
As I made my way out of the reserve to get lunch, I spotted this Lynx Spider that caught a moth bigger than itself. Around 2 hours and a thunderstorm later I returned, the spider was still munching away in the same spot –
I was blown away by the hieroglyph-like pattern on this spider (noted in its name as well!); spiders are definitely on my to-explore list in Hong Kong this summer –
Fellow photographers around the butterfly reserve often only focus on the beautiful butterflies but take little notice of the biodiversity around them. If you slow down and look closely enough, there is life and exciting things happening all around you.
Here are some of the insects I found around the reserve –
The other thing that fascinated me are planthoppers 蠟蟬, I have always thought that they are some kind of moth, but obviously not! After some studying, I now know that the white bizarre looking creature is in fact the nymph 若蟲 of the planthopper. Planthoppers are observed in thousands this summer; the increase in their numbers may be a combined result of the very warm past winter and the lack of natural predators such as frogs due to habitat loss –
And finally, I cannot miss out the little devilish mosquitoes (gave me 30+ bites that day!). Pictured below is an Asian Tiger Mosquito 白紋伊蚊, they could transmit diseases such as dengue fever, so it is best to avoid getting bitten.
This summer I will be doing a series under the theme of ‘Hong Kong’s Bug Safari 香港昆蟲漫遊’, so keep an eye on this blog to experience the city and its countryside in an entirely different scale!