On Tuesday, Wang Shu-hua, president of the Keelung City Neiliao Community Development Association, captured a photo of a beautiful butterfly in the Neiliao Wetlands. It was the first time she had ever seen one like it. Experts recognized it as a White-edged Blue Baron. Shen Chin-feng, a council member of the Keelung Bird Society, said Thursday that this could be the first time this butterfly has ever been recorded in Taiwan, the nearest place in which it has been sighted being Xiamen, China. There is a regular shipping route between Taiwan and Xiamen, and it cannot be ruled out that the butterfly came over as a stowaway.
According to Shen, the White-edged Blue Baron can be found in India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and south China, the nearest place to Taiwan that it has been recorded being Xiamen. The butterfly is known to nestle on mango trees, and it just so happens that there was a fruit bearing mango tree in the Neiliao Wetlands: when Wang spotted this male Blue Baron, it was nestling on a Yellow Water Lily, drinking water. From its appearance it seems to have only just emerged from its chrysalis. Even more intriguing, however, was the question of where exactly did it come from.
Experts believe that the Blue Baron could have entered Keelung via a shipping route. There was a passenger ship in the Port of Keelung named the Cosco Star that travels to and from Xiamen on a regular weekly basis, and it is known from a survey carried out by the Keelung Bird Society of Taiwan’s three northern outlying islands that insects carried on the monsoon winds will land on fishing boats and become “stowaways” on these vessels. Sometimes, they will arrive unannounced in Keelung in this way.
Photo courtesy of Wang Shu-hua
Shen gave another example, citing the case of the Large Faun butterfly first discovered at the Ershawan Battery in Keelung in 1997, and which is still seen in Keelung to this day. The area of distribution of the Blue Baron is very similar to that of the Large Faun, and the Blue Baron’s appearance could well be a repeat performance of the Large Faun’s arrival.
(Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
Photo courtesy of Shen Chin-feng
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