Common Rose crowned S'pore's national butterfly

Common Rose crowned S'pore's national butterfly

THE Common Rose has emerged as Singapore's national butterfly, beating five other candidates in the contest held by the Nature Society Singapore (NSS).

Fittingly, this "uncommon rose" - which has declined to near extinction in Singapore - has red dots and white streaks on its wings, reminiscent of the five stars and crescent moon on the Singapore flag.

Also known by its scientific name of Pachliopta aristolochiae asteris, the Common Rose is found mainly in forests, although it occasionally feeds on the nectar of flowers found in parks and gardens on the forest edge.

Noting that the species is at risk of dying out here, the NSS said: "It relies on a single host plant - the Dutchman's Pipe - to feed it at the caterpillar stage, and the distribution of this plant in Singapore is very limited.

"It is important to encourage the growth of this plant in gardens and parks, and to preserve our forests where this vine can be found."

The NSS launched the competition in March to raise awareness of how butterflies enhance the environment, and of the need to protect them and their natural forest habitat. The Painted Jezebel butterfly, for example, feeds on the leaves of the Malayan Mistletoe - a parasitic plant of mature trees - when it is a caterpillar.

Singaporeans, permanent and working residents could visit a website to vote for one of six butterfly species which were shortlisted by experts based on beauty, size, uniqueness to Singapore and other factors.

The other five candidates were the Painted Jezebel, Common Birdwing, Common Tiger, Common Tree Nymph and Knight.

All in, 7,603 votes were cast, with the Common Rose garnering 37 per cent of them. The Painted Jezebel was the first runner-up with 27 per cent of the votes, and the Common Tiger was third with 21 per cent.

Mr Gan Cheong Weei, vice-chairman of the NSS butterfly and insect group, said the Common Rose likely won because of its "Singapore colour". He said: "That is probably what attracted a lot of people to it - they can identify with its colours."

zengkun@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 6, 2015.
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