The Lascars of Singapore
That includes the Lascar butterflies of Singapore
A Malayan Lascar perches on a leaf after a bathe
The Lascar butterflies belong to a bunch of species beneath the sub-family Limetidinae of the household Nymphalidae. These Lascars had been most likely so named after an Indian sailor, military servant, or artilleryman. An excerpt from Wikipedia reads “The British East India Firm recruited seamen from areas round its factories in Bengal, Assam and Gujarat, in addition to from Yemen, British Somaliland and Portuguese Goa. They had been identified by the British as lascars. These seamen included Indian sailors, who would go on to serve on British till the Nineteen Sixties.”
A Widespread Lascar perched with open wings
In our butterfly world, the Lascars are butterflies which are orange-and-black banded. They’re usually small butterflies with wingspans often not exceeding 50mm. They’ve a weak flap-glide-flap flight, often flying amongst low shrubbery, however can rapidly take off to the treetops when alarmed. There are at present 4 totally different species of Lascars in Singapore, though there’s a robust chance of a fifth species as a result of problem of separating them from subject pictures.
A Burmese Lascar perched on the leaf of a Singapore Rhododendron
The standard Lascar is alert and skittish, and when in flight, not simple to tell apart amongst the totally different species. They’re often present in forested habitats, though they’re broadly distributed throughout Singapore. One of many species is usually related to back-mangrove habitats on account of its host plant being present in such areas.
1. The Malayan Lascar (Lasippa tiga siaka)
The Malayan Lascar might be the most typical and broadly distributed of the 4 species in Singapore. It may be noticed at parks and gardens just like the Southern Ridges, Botanic Gardens though it’s primarily noticed in forested areas across the fringes of, and throughout the nature reserves.
A mating pair of Malayan Lascars
The wings are sometimes banded with black and orange, with the underside a paler color. The species could be distinguished from the similar-looking Burmese Lascar by the submarginal spot in area 3, which is wider than the adjoining spots in areas 2 and 4. It has been bred on the caterpillar host vegetation Erycibe tomentosa and Bauhinia semibifida.
2. The Burmese Lascar (Lasippa heliodore dorelia)
A Burmese Lascar puddling at a humid footpath
The Burmese Lascar is rarer than its lookalike cousin, the Malayan Lascar. It’s a forest-dependent species that doesn’t fly removed from the character reserves of Singapore. It’s typically noticed seen puddling at damp sandy footpaths within the nature reserves. It has been efficiently bred on its caterpillar host vegetation of Rourea minor, Rourea asplenifolia and Cnestis palala.
A mating pair of Burmese Lascars
The Burmese Lascar options the everyday orange/black banded look of the Lascars, with the underside a paler orange-yellow with darkish gray bands. The first distinguishing attribute of this species that separates it from the very similar-looking Malayan Lascar is the submarginal spot in area 3, which is barely wider than the adjoining spots in areas 2 and 4.
3. The Perak Lascar (Pantoporia paraka paraka)
A Perak Lascar perched on a leaf to sunbathe
The Perak Lascar is extra often encountered in back-mangrove and mangrove habitats the place its most well-liked host vegetation, Dalbergia rostrata and Dalbergia candenatensis are discovered. Its third caterpillar host plant, Cnestis palala which it shares with the Burmese Lascar, grows primarily within the forested nature reserves, the place the Perak Lascar is usually additionally discovered. In Singapore, it’s typically noticed within the neighborhood of mangrove habitats in Pulau Ubin, Kranji, Sg Buloh Wetlands and Pasir Ris Park.
A Perak Lascar perched on the flower buds of the Singapore Rhododendron
The Perak Lascar has the everyday orange/black banded look, with the underside a paler color. The diagnostic identification attribute of this species are two orange submarginal strains on the forewing above, with one or each bent at area 3. Along with the marginal orange spots that appear as if a 3rd skinny line, giving the looks of three orange strains, the Perak Lascar is straightforward to determine and when it stops to relaxation, can’t be mistaken for any of the opposite Lascar species in Singapore.
4. The Widespread Lascar (Pantoporia hordonia hordonia)
A Widespread Lascar forages amongst leaf litter
The fourth Lascar present in Singapore is the Widespread Lascar, which frequents the forested nature reserves in Singapore. Each its caterpillar host vegetation are forest vegetation – Archidendron clypearia and Parkia speciosa. The last-named host plant can also be referred to as “Petai” and is a bean that’s consumed in conventional Malay delicacies.
A Widespread Lascar puddling at a humid footpath
The Widespread Lascar additionally has the orange/black banded look, but when the underside of this species could be seen, the marbled underside will set it aside from the opposite three species described above. On the upperside, there’s a single thick orange sub-marginal line, with a interior pale gray line.
A attainable Broad-Striped Lascar, a species that’s similar to the Widespread Lascar
Nonetheless, it’s this species that may be simply confused with the Broad-Striped Lascar (Pantoporia sandaka sandaka), which has a really related look besides in that the orange sub-marginal line is thicker than the interior pale gray line. Within the Widespread Lascar, the pale gray line is thicker than the orange submarginal line. Nonetheless, in view of the issue of separating them definitively, the existence of Pantoporia sandaka is tentatively held in abeyance till bodily specimens or DNA evaluation could be made obtainable for validation.
ID Keys to the 4 Lascars
There are two different similar-looking species that had been recorded in Singapore by the early authors – The Gray Lined Lascar (Pantoporia dindinga) and the Child Lascar (Pantoporia aurelia) however these haven’t been seen lately or might have been missed. Therefore if any observers and butterfly watchers on the market who spot these Lascars, do attempt to take a superb picture of those species, as they could nonetheless be extant in Singapore in any case!
Textual content by Khew SK : Images by Chng CK, Khew SK, Loh MY, Loke PF and Horace Tan