Chin’s Butterfly Gallery
The "baroness" with a taste for bullock's heart
By Chin Fah Shin

DURING MY MANY NATURE OUTINGS in the past, I often saw butterflies "drinking" the juice of fruits that had fallen from the tree to the ground. Usually, the fruits were already so ripe, or over-ripe, that juice was oozing out through the skin.
  I remember that it was easy enough to photograph these butterflies, such as the forest-dwelling Archduke (Delias pardalis dirteana), when they were thus "pre-occupied" having their fruit drink.
  One could get so close that one could even see their proboscis. Indeed, in the past, many species were taken (i.e. collected) after fruit baits were laid for them. It's possible that this is still being done.
  At picnic spots beside streams or waterfalls, where humans leave behind half-eaten food after their picnic, including fruits, one could also see butterflies, flies, ants and other insects relishing the left-overs.
  So, it did not really surprised me when a butterfly flew into my garden one afternoon in January this year (2018) to have some fruit juice. What I saw as unusual was that the fruit in question was about 10ft (about three metres) off the ground.
  The fruit was a bullock's heart, Annona reticulata, which is related to the more commonly grown custard apple, Annona squamosa. It had ripened on the tree, and when I first saw it, it had already been partly eaten, possibly by some Philippine glossy starlings (Aplonis payayensis) which I had often seen in my Klang Valley suburban garden.
  "This is interesting. I have to take some photos," I told myself. And I fetched my camera and a ladder from the house. It was difficult to move stealthily when one was carrying an eight-step aluminium ladder. The butterfly flew away as I was placing the ladder under the tree branch.
  So I retreated and I waited and watched from some distance
away. When the butterfly returned I made my way as carefully as I could and climbed the ladder. Just when I got within range it flew away again. This back-and-forth was repeated about five or six times and I could feel my 69-year-old legs getting weaker and wobbly.
  Well, to cut a long story short, I finally managed to get some photos. Looking at the butterfly up close, it was obvious to me that it had seen better days. It looked faded and its wing margins were torn and jagged. I had guessed that the species was the Baron, Euthalia aconthea gurda, but I wasn't sure. The basis for this guess is that there's a mango tree, the larval food plant, growing nearby.
  When I referred to Corbet & Pendlebury, I saw that it was indeed a female Baron. Hence "baroness" within quote marks in the heading. Please don't get excited. It's not a new species.

The Baron (Euthalia aconthea gurda), female
The female Baron (Euthalia aconthea gurda) feeding on the juice of
a bullock's heart fruit in my garden. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin.