New butterfly record in Hong Kong

1) Eliotia spp.

According to AFCD, an Eliotia spp. (family Lycaenidae) was photographed by Kai Ma in June this year at Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve.  So far, six Eliotia spp. are described and they are all found in the Philippines (with Philippine origin), five are endemics. The most recent described species is Eliotia australis Schröder & Treadaway, 1990 and the genus Eliotia was only introduced in 1978 by Hayashi.

The only one which has a wider distribution (other than the Philippines, it also appears in Java, India, Thailand, East and West Malayisa ....) is Eliotia jalindra Horsfield, 1829.  However, the one photographed may or may not be Eliotia jalindra because it is impossible to identify this species by a photograph. To check out the photos of various Eliotia species - a Synonymic List of Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera) from the Philippines maintained by Yusuke Takanami & Yasuo Seki. (please note that Eliotia is treated as Rachana Eliot, 1978 here)  

Personally, I doubt it to be a new species for science. My personal observation is that we will always found common species, but rare or new-to-science ones are rare to find. It is likely that it has established itself in Tai Po Kau but it's definitely not blown over by typhoon as mentioned by the news reporter in Ming Pao. The only reason for it to be found or other new Hong Kong record to be made is that more people are interested in butterflies nowadays.  I suspect there are over 100 people who enjoy photographing butterflies and one can even spot them on the weekends in some "butterfly hot spots" like Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve and Fung Yuen in Tai Po. 

2) Taractrocera maevius Fabricius 1793

A mating pair of unidentified skipper was photographed by Alex Wu on 5th September 2004 at Ninepin Islands. Taractrocera maevius photo 01 and Taractrocera maevius photo 02. From the initial observation of the antennae, it is a Taractrocera spp., similar to the other T. ceramas (o?AE?o) already found in Hong Kong except that it has brownish underwings.  There are about 15 Taractrocera spp. recorded in the world ranging from Thailand eastward and down towards to  Australia, among them five are found in Australia. The one found in Hong Kong resembles Taractrocera maevius Fabricius 1793. The photograph was forwarded to two skipper experts Hiroshi Tsukiyama and Hideyuki Chiba who later confirmed that the butterfly is in fact T. maevius.  I took the trip with other enthusiasts to the Ninepin Islands in September in search of the butterfly  but with no luck. 

3) Papilio machaon Linnaeus, 1758

This butterfly, (normally regarded as a temperate spp.) was found hill-topping in Kai Shan, Yuen Long  in mid October, 2004 and was instantly created a rush for butterfly lovers. 

The butterfly has a wide distribution ranging from the American continent to North Africa throughout Europe, eastward to Gaungdong, China.  I found it in Nanling, Guangdong and is not an uncommon butterfly. From the pictures taken as shown in - Papilio machaon photo 01 and Papilio machaon photo 02, at least two were spotted and they were all males waiting for a mate.  The butterfly in question found during this time of the year coincides with the northerly wind from southern China, same time as the start of migration of Danaids to Hong Kong. I believe that this may be a stray from the north following the outward air current to Hong Kong.  Its natural host plants are limited in Hong Kong. The caterpillar feeds mainly on  Umbelliferae plants. Only two recorded host plants namely Foeniculum vulgare Mill. and Apium graveolens L. are found locally but they are all cultivated and are not found in the wild. At the same time, Kai Shan is located next to housing estate and industrial areas, I doubt that this butterfly was bred locally. However, I hope I am wrong.  

Well done to those who found the record!   

(prepared by J J Young)

©2004 Hong Kong Lepidopterists' Society Limited