Monday, July 13, 2020

BUTTERFLIES OF KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK, Uganda, Part 3, Guest Post by Karen Minkowski

Euphaedra eusemoides, butterfly in Kibale National Park, Uganda
My friend Karen Minkowski, truly an intrepid tourist, has spent much of her life in the field observing wild animals. She spent several months last year in Africa, including time in Kibale Forest National Park. In this three part series she shares her photos and observations of some of the wildlife there, particularly the wonderful diversity of butterflies. (Part 1, 6/29/20; Part 2, 7/6/20)
Butterfly larvae may not be as graceful or elegant as what they eventually metamorphose into, but I loved the variety of spikes, hairs, colors and pattern –  evolutionary adaptations to warn predators to keep away.

Richard also found insects fascinating and helped me spot them.
Euphaedra alacris butterfly
Euphaedra alacris caterpillar (larva)
I could identify only the larva of Euphaedra alacris, above with feathery appendages. Above it is the butterfly it will become.
Noctuid moth caterpillar that has been paratisitized by a Braconid wasp
Here is more drama in the insect world, this time in slow motion: a Braconid wasp has parasitized the larva (caterpillar) of a Noctuidae moth. By laying her eggs inside the larva's body, the wasp has turned it into an unwitting host that is supporting the developmental stages of her young. When the wasp's eggs hatched as larvae, they fed on the host's bodily fluids until they were ready to pupate. They then gnawed their way through the caterpillar's skin and spun their pupae - the white appendages - on its body. The Noctuidae larva will die before it can metamorphose into a moth, while adult Braconid wasps will emerge from their pupae and fly away.

Blue Mother of Pearl (Protogoniomorpha temora aka Junonia temora). 1971


Blue Mother of Pearl (Protogoniomorpha temora aka Junonia temora). 2019

Eventually I saw my purpley-blue butterfly. On top is the photograph I took in 1971 with a Miranda camera and either Kodachrome II or Ektachrome film. Below it is an image of the same species taken last year with my digital “bridge” camera, the Sony RX10v3. I often miss the warmth and saturation of Kodachrome film, even if those long ago images lacked the sharpness of today's digital photos.
I'm curious to see how the butterflies distribute themselves during Kibale's dry season. When dung is not diluted by rain do they still feed on it? Or do more of them drink nectar, like this unidentified butterfly is doing? And will I see species that show up only when the forest is drier? When it is again safe to travel, I hope to go find out.
Meanwhile, here are a few more of Kibale's amazing butterflies and moths:
Euphaedra uganda
    East African forest acraea, Acraea pharsalus     

Cyclophora diplostica, a Geometrid moth Kallimoides rumia; Cymothoe lurida
Euphaedra harpalyce
Brown pansy (Junonia hedonia)
Common dotted border (Mylothris agothina)

*****
I am very grateful to Dr. David Tumusiime and Mr. Innocent Kato for welcoming me as a volunteer at the Makerere University Biological Field Station and for their hospitality and support during my stay from April 9 to June 19, 2019. Many others on the MUBFS staff and in the Kanyawara community helped me as well. I thank Nelson Guma of Uganda Wildlife Authority for expediting permission for me to reside and work in Kibale for that time period. It was a remarkable experience that I will always treasure. Thanks to Dr. Freerk Molleman, who kindly made available for download his Butterflies of Uganda: Kibale Forest (2012) and also identified some of my photos. Likewise, Dr. Sille Holm identified several moths and the family of a moth larva. I also consulted The Anglia Ruskin University guide to butterflies of Kibale Forest, Uganda, by Alvin J. Helden, Fabrizio Manco and Sophie Mowles, v.2 (2018); A Field Guide to the Butterflies of East Africa, by John G. Williams (1969); and the internet. Any errors in identification are my own.