Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary staff Azmira Edora Mohamad with a few of the ‘Idea Lynceus’.
MALACCA: A near extinct Malaysian butterfly species has been successfully conserved, thanks to Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary of Ayer Keroh here.
The conservation of Tree Nymph butterfly or scientifically known as Idea Lynceus, which is the largest of the Danaidae subfamily in the world, materialised after a decade of research and development (R&D) by the sanctuary before starting the breeding programme.
Managing director of the sanctuary, Gerard Wong, said the R&D was carried out since 2006 by 15 laboratory staff.
“It all started with the discovery of host plant and subsequently cultivation of the larva right here.
“Currently, we have monthly production of 500 Idea Lynceus species with 300 host plants,” he said.
Wong said the female would lay a single egg on the host plant where the larva takes two weeks before turning into a golden pupa and an adult butterfly emerges with a life span of three weeks.
He said the butterfly species is rarely seen in the country due to the rarity of the host plant where the larva feeds on.
“The plant also grows slowly where on average, two of 100 cuttings from the vine can be successfully cultivated, and takes a year for the plant to grow before the butterflies could lay their eggs.
“Hence, the breeding of the butterfly on a large scale is still not possible until now and has high conservative value,” he said.
Tree Nymphs are characterised by their translucent white wings patterned with black veins, and numerous oval black spots.
They are noted for their slow and very graceful flight while their wing is about 135 to 165mm where the adult flies three to five meters above the ground.
The species is also protected by the Malaysian Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.