Hong Kong Lepidopterists' Society Events & Activities

Brief report on the trip to Guiuan, the southern tip of the
Homonhon Island of Samar, Philippines - 20th to 23rd April, 1999

By James Young

Orsotriaena medus Acrophtalmia leto

            I had been to the Samar Island of the Philippines a few times some 15 years ago. After a talk over coffee with Gable Wang, we decided to take a trip to the Philippines. We felt that it would be a good time for us especially with the Hong Kong Lepidopterists’ Society newly incorporated, to meet some of our fellow butterfly and moth enthusiasts in the Philippines. At the same time, we could search out for new butterfly watching places as we hoped to organize future butterfly watching trips to include the South Asian Islands as well as the rest of the Guangdong Province.

            After arriving in Manila on the 18th April, we met our friend Ms. Lydia Robledo and her husband Burt of the Butterfly Gardening Society of the Philippines. We talked for a few hours and we promised to assist if we could to preserve and conserve the Philippines heritage of butterflies and moths.

            We spent the next whole day in travelling to Talcoban, Leyte and leaving Talcoban at midnight to catch the ferryboat to Guiuan, Samar. We arrived at Guiuan in the early morning on the 20th April and were greeted by my friends at the pier.

Ypthima sempera Junonia hedonia

            Guiuan had changed a lot since my last lonely venture to this part of the world. There was no electricity for the general public and the place could not be reached by telephone. Now Guiuan had all modern facilities and there was a nice comfortable hotel called Tanguay Lodge next to the pier.

            After a good shower and breakfast, we wandered off to the village nearby. In fact, once we left the front gate of the hotel, we saw the famous Troides magellanus flying over the treetops opposite our hotel. Gable was astonished, as it was the first time for him to see the Magellan’s butterfly. However, the weather was changing and it began to drizzle shortly. All butterflies seemed to hide from us with only Jamides suidas and Junonia hedonia still hovering their host plants on the sides of the mud path. We went to take shelter at my friend’s fish station nearby and fished for a few hours before we wandered back to our hotel. We planned to go to the Homonhon Island the next day.

Homonhon Island

            Homonhon Island was quite a large island. I guessed it was larger than the Lantau Island in Hong Kong. Homonhon was the place where the Spanish adventurer, Ferdinand Magellan first landed in the Philippines. The Island was supposed to be covered with rainforest and Magellan obtained his fresh water for the rest of his journey from a waterfall in this Island.

            Pitifully, the trees were all cut and only coconut trees were seen in the vicinity on our arrival. There was only a small village at the pier. We were told that the local people were mostly fishermen. Some however still lived on the income from tree cuttings. After asking for permission from the local official to wander around the Island, we immediately headed for the waterfall, which butterflies supposed to favour. There were very few butterflies flying along our path. All butterflies appeared to be very fresh and newly emerged from their pupae. Homonhon Island We felt that we came in the wrong season. If we had come two weeks later, there would be a lot of butterflies flying around. Suddenly, I saw a small creeping vine of Aristolochiae that most Troides feed besides the path. Without any hesitation, I called out loud to Gable and told him that I found the host plant for the Troides of Magellan. On further searching, five Troides eggs were found together some Pachilopta eggs. The Troides egg was about 2.8mm in diameter and brightly orange in colour. We were overjoyed and promised to pass the information to Lydia for her Society if they do not have the details of the life history of this magnificent butterfly. After our discovery, we went further to arrive at the waterfall. It was a very small waterfall. In fact, it was very tiny and we were surprised not to find any butterflies flying around the waterfall at all.

Anosia melanippus (?) Anosia melanippus (?) 

            The clouds were gathering fast and rain started to pour. We returned to our boat and headed back to Guiuan. The next day was even worst and we had rain the whole day. We decided to return one day ahead of our schedule to Manila to meet my friends from my school days. We promised to return.

Jamides suidas Idea lucecone (?)