Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary Tour: Out In The Garden

Done with the “info-overload” on butterfly things inside the house, Osman led us out into the garden (to the right, emerging from the house) for us to see and learn more about butterflies – this time live and fluttering! Wohoa! Mind you, it took us exactly an hour and 7 minutes inside the house. And he did not even open every single framed group of insects for us because there were just too many. By the way, flash photography inside the house is not allowed as they say harsh light from flashbulbs could decolorize preserved butterflies. But out in the open, you are encouraged to do what your camera can ever do! Ah yes, we can say that this is the sanctuary portion of the “Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary, Museum and Art Gallery”.

I am very thankful that there were only three of us being toured by Osman. We were free to ask all the questions we had in our minds, he could easily show and tell or demonstrate to us many things butterfly with all the explanations and expounding that he thought were needed. It was also easy to listen to him as there were no distractions. And it was easy for him to keep talking butterfly things as he was not being distracted, which otherwise would have been the case if there were a busload of kids (or even college students) on tour. That by the way is very common as this sanctuary is one of the best in terms of educational purposes. Reason too, why I called up earlier before I went as I wanted to avoid those scenarios!

Yey! Immediately after we stepped out of their house, there were those green and black flutterers moving about. He told us the common name and scientific name of those, but my lowly pea of a brain can’t recall that. Sorry folks hehe! Anyway…

Just by the pathway, he led us to follow one of those green-and-black butterflies fluttering about. No need to go far nor run for it as the beautiful thing was just hopping and fluffing near the path. Osman told us that butterfly was ready to lay eggs and should be looking for a vine to do it. He pointed the vine and we learned from him that ALL butterflies have this unique (and dangerous) behaviour of laying eggs on just a specific plant/tree. Yeah, that means if you cut those, they wont lay eggs and if they don’t find anything of the kind, they’ll just die with their eggs and abort any idea of reproduction. Oh, some butterflies live just up to three weeks while others just up to three days.

So we have to know what we are cutting from our yards, farms or gardens. Fact is, the little vine (its light-green and does not really grow to more than spaghetti-like in size) that he pointed to us, is the only thing/place where that butterfly would lay eggs on. It’s a vine that most people (include me) would consider a nuisance weed in their gardens. Of course I did not tell Osman, but I know that vine as something my grandma and the househelp were always watchful to rip away from her garden as they disturbed or ruin the look of mi abuela’s flowering plants and shrubberies. Gosh!

Then a similar butterfly came near our subject. Osman said it was a male and flirting with the female that we were following. He said it was a useless move since Miss Female won’t give a hoot at any kind of flirting as she was about to lay her eggs. He even drove the male butterfly away so the female can concentrate finding a place in the vine to lay her eggs. Why did he drive the male away? Because he wanted us to watch the female lay her eggs. He said watch for the abdomen (called thorax?) and butt of the butterfly, if it curves and raises a bit upward, then she would have been laying an egg. But the pesky horny male kept coming, many times even attempting to copulate and Osman kept driving it away. That was some minutes we kept watching… to no avail! Argh! But the whole natural thing was already amusement enough to me! Frankly, if there was no annotation as we watched, I would have interpreted that as just two beautiful butterflies playing in the garden. What a learning!

We were shown real tiny live eggs, clinging to a plant. OMG, how could he have seen those! They looked like just plant dirt or some aphids to me hehe! He explained that not all of those would successfully become butterfly as many will be eaten by other bugs, birds or lizards and geckos. I asked why their garden was open, not the aviary-type, yet there were so many butterflies hanging around. And the response was my next learning: the plants and shrubberies around. As said earlier, butterflies lay their eggs on specific plants, thus the garden has more than a hundred of them that are what different kinds of butterflies want. And I thought those were planted in the garden just to make it look green hehe. Those plants actually have a better purpose.

Next he started pointing to and naming each plant, shrub, tree or vine… telling us what kind of butterfly calls it home. I kept nodding but, sorry, I cannot even recall a pair of those he mentioned. Am not a green thumb and am new with hearing lepidop… whatever hehe! Then I asked “how do you advertise these plants so that butterflies come”. He explained that butterflies could smell their desired flora as far as 5kms depending on wind direction. Wow! He told us that these butterflies may have come from afar by connecting the 5km radii of their smelling powers. Oh my… to fathom that, I imagined a network of cellular sites hehe. He added, “they don’t have noses, they smell with their antennae”. Really astounding!

Amongst the various shrubbery, plants and trees, he pointed to us a "topiary" (I hope I got that right). Those are plants formed to look or represent some things. Remember the elephants over at the old Royal Palace in Ayutthaya? Its like that. The topiaries here are actually smaller, just about waist level. But they are supposed to display the various stages of a butterfly's life - from egg to adult. However, as the garden is so dense and not so wide, no one of us even noticed until he pointed and described it to us. And yes, butterflies also flock at the topiary.

As we moved on, he said (in English) “come come, I’ll allow you inside since there are only three of you”. And we stumbled upon a cage. Oh so they have cages after all! Ah that’s my next blog entry.

C ya there!


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