Hong Kong Lepidopterists' Society Events & Activities

Trip to Phuket, Thailand (April, 2000)

By James Young

Change of Plan

            The Society first decided to go to the Nan Ling National Reserve, Guangdong for a field trip in April. Unexpectedly, the National Reserve had increased its fees levied upon the Society by threefold. It was outrageous and ridiculous for us to pay. In protest, Dr P.C Lee and I ventured to go to Phuket instead in the last minutes.

            Phuket - arrived safely and blessed with beautiful butterflies

            It was surprisingly not too hot when we arrived at Phuket in the afternoon though the sun was still shinning. It might just have a shower before our arrival. We were taken to our hotel and immediately we got hold of a 4WD for the next two days of our search for butterflies. Phuket had not changed much since my last trip to the Island 3 years ago, although the highway which cut across the Island, was widen and well paved.

            In the coming next two days, we had visited 2 waterfalls on the Island and the renowned Nai Yang Beach where I used to find schools of Losaria coon and Triodes helena in the past. Not to my surprise, we did find them flying in numbers in Nai Yang Beach again at this time of the year. We surely wasted a lot of films on the butterflies at Nai Yang.

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Losaria coon

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Spindasis syama

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Egg laying female of Arhopala pseudocentaurus - (with egg visible in the 3rd photograph above)

At Nai Yang Beach, Phuket

            At the waterfalls, we were less fortunate as there were occasionally down pouring on our arrival.

            We managed to add to our itineraries a visit to an opened-netted butterfly garden and aquarium during the day. We were disappointed at the butterfly garden as only a handful of species was flying and the numbers in flight were applauding. The Troides was not even flying when we were there and a heavy shower came suddenly to drive all butterflies to hide from us. We had no choice but to leave for lunch and head for a natural habitat for our more challenging beautiful butterflies afterwards.

            I found it no fun to watch butterflies in an enclosed environment. They were too tame and somewhat retarded. The feeling of free spirited flying insects and extra stamina were gone. Watching butterflies flying in an enclosed area and feeding on introduced nectar plants or on sugary liquids were unbearable. I would prefer to observe them in the wild, the many features of butterfly watching, various ways of feeding, egg laying, courting, different flights, territorial markings and many other characteristics of butterflies which a butterfly garden could not replicate or substitute. At the same time. many beautifully butterfly species were never found in butterfly gardens, namely Lycaenids and Hesperids. For taking photographs, I would like to quote my friend's Yiu Vor saying as " living butterfly is our best model and the nature gives the best background".

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Hypolycaena erylus (left) and Lamproptera meges (right)

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Female of Cheritra freja at rest (left) - egg laying (right)

At Tong Sai Waterfall, Phuket

            After sweating for two days of butterfly hunting, we returned home safely and ready to go to work the next day.