Thursday, October 29, 2015

Summarising My Blog Posts So Far


It's come to the end of many weeks of writing this blog, and it seems that it's nearly exam period! I've always been interested in moths and butterflies, and I am glad that I have had an opportunity to research further. Actually, I feel that my knowledge on these insects did increase, but I think my main takeaway from this is really the impact of our daily actions on the environment. Even actions such as leaving our lights on can have a strong impact on common species. The environment is fragile; even the most common species that we see around play such an important part in the ecosystem. We tend to feel the need to protect only the endangered species, and we feel that common species, like mynahs, house lizards and moths will never become vulnerable. But that is what happened to passenger pigeons, right? They thought that the species will never run out, but they did. As educated Singaporeans, we can do so much more. By starting from small habits to protect our less vulnerable species and then extending our valuable help to more vulnerable species, we can protect our biodiversity.

I hope that it was enjoyable reading my blog, and I'll be updating it after the butterfly habitat programme!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Moths: The Next Superfood?


Did you know that the world's population is projected to be 9 billion in 2050? Did you also know that nearly 30% of the world's land is used to raise livestocks? Agriculture is already said to be terribly damaging to habitats and ecosystem, so how are we going to sustainably raise animals for meat to feed 9 billion people?

The answer to this problem is possibly... Insects! Insects require a lot less pollutants such as pesticides and greenhouse gases, requires less energy to cultivate, and takes up less land. Eating provides us protein, without fats, unlike red meat.

Here's a video of some people trying "food from the future".

I know this post isn't entirely related to moths and butterflies... But you see, I grew up in South Korea, where silkworms are sold as street food. I have tried, and it pops in your mouth like a yoghurt ball (queue response "EWW!") and they're very salty. Silkworms are the young of the domesticated silkmoth. When the caterpillars of the silkmoth wrap up with silk during the pupa stage, the silk is peeled off and the transforming caterpillars are cooked into what you see below. I remember it was 500 won (around 50 cents in SGD) per cup. 

Yep... Silkworm snacks!
Silkmoth - Bombyx mori
See you in the next post!

Sources:,. (2015). Forbes Welcome. Retrieved 28 October 2015, from

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

As Singaporeans, What Can We Do to Save Our Butterflies and Moths?


I've talked a little about light pollution, the effects of artificial lights on nocturnal moths and what we can do to play our part in reducing this pollution. However, there are so many different human activities and pollution that affects moths, butterflies and every other species, and so much more we can do to save them.

1. Being conscious about gardening

Thinking of gardens as small habitats may be very helpful to moths, butterflies and other insects. For example, putting gravel, concrete and sand in the garden may be aesthetically pleasing, but not very attractive to the wide array of insects. By choosing to grow plants with ample nectar, such as morning glory, yucca and lavender may attract moths and butterflies. Not over-trimming hedges and reducing the use of herbicide and pesticides will not only protect insects, but also reduce pollution. Majority of Singaporeans live in condos and HDBs (Housing Development Board flats), and according to Department of Statistics Singapore, only 5.5% of the population lives in landed properties. However, this can be applied to gardens in condominium and around HDBs. Protection of species should not be something that we limit to natural areas such as Sungei Buloh, but a conscious effort made in our daily lives for it to be truly effective. If Singapore was to be a true garden city, everyone must play their part.

Gardens are mini habitats!

2. Reducing light pollution

My post on light pollution and what we can do to help is found here.

3. Participation in citizen science programmes

If you are on Facebook and follow NParks and Nature Society Singapore (NSS), you will see many programmes such as nature trails, butterfly habitat enhancements and various talks. I plan to sign up for the butterfly habitat enhancement programme during the holidays! Not only do you get to play a part in saving the environment, you get to expand your knowledge on flora and fauna of Singapore.

Who wants to join me over the holidays?

Sources:,. (2015). Helping moths - Moths Count. Retrieved 28 October 2015, from,. (2015). Butterfly Conservation - Gardening. Retrieved 28 October 2015, from

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Effects of Light Pollution on Moths


I'll be talking about how light pollution affects one of the most important pollinators, moths! They may not seem like it, but they play a large role in the ecosystem as pollinators. Most moths are nocturnal pollinators, that is to say, they actively pollinate flowers at night. Some moths are specialised feeders, so they help us to deduce what kind of plants might be around the surrounding.
However, these moths are affected by something that most of us are not aware of: lights. While there are no concrete evidence as to why, and entomologists can only come up with theories, moths are definitely attracted to artificial lights. You see, when moths evolved into what they are over many many years, they were accustomed to lights coming from the sun during the day, moonlight and starlight (essentially reflected sunlight). Moths navigate by a process called 'transverse orientation', where they fly at a constant angle to a distant light source. So imagine now that this moth was innocently flying at night and comes across a very bright street lamp. It will be confused by this bright light and fly towards the source. By the way, moths aren't the only animals affected by artificial lights. Thousands of birds and bats are often killed as they knock into brightly-lit buildings and street lights.

Don't blame moths when they kamikaze into your lights next time!
Light sources that may disorientate them include street lamps, car headlights, LED signboards, porch lights... Basically all man-made artificial lights. Of course, it is impossible for us to switch off everything in order to save them. Artificial lights play a large role in our lives, it extends productive hours for us diurnal creatures and keeps our roads safe at night. However, we can each take little steps to save these little flyers.

As I know that Singaporeans are now aware of the impacts of their actions on water, air and soil, but they are not familiar with light pollution. I'll list a few things everyone can do!

1. Use curtains or blinds if you are going to work late into the night.
2. Switch off lights in rooms / porch / balcony if not in use! You can play a part in keeping moths on their track, as well as cut on your electricity bills.
3. Use light bulbs with lower wavelength. These are bug-friendly and less harmful to our health.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Summarising "Garden and Landscape-Scale Correlates of Moths of Differing Conservation Status: Significant Effects of Urbanization and Habitat Diversity"

Today, I'll be summarising this article, "Garden and Landscape-Scale Correlates of Moths of Differing Conservation Status: Significant Effects of Urbanization and Habitat Diversity". I have talked about UK and their citizen scientist programmes, and this is a research done by one such programme.

This paper is based on data collected by the Garden Moth Scheme (GMS) in 2010 to find out which garden habitat and landscape-scale features most strongly influences the number of species and population number of moths, and whether the changes in habitat changes the population of moth species. The data is collected using moth light traps by 314 participants in this programme, in order to draw the link between moths and habitats. 

While we think the most common species are the ones that needs least protection and consideration, these are the species that plays the largest role in supporting the ecosystem. According to the research, the common species are decreasing in numbers. Think about it: common moths are important pollinators and prey for birds and insects. What will happen if these moths start to decline in number? Can you see how decrease of one species will tip the balance of the entire ecosystem? That is the fragility of the natural environment, and that is why we need to work towards conservation. 

A nocturnal pollinator
The research showed that intensification of agriculture and urbanisation results in habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, light pollution and chemical pollution, except for small species that seem to thrive in urban environment. The larger the habitat, the higher the number of moths per unit area. 

Singapore is currently FIRST in urbanisation, with 100% of the population living in urban areas and urbanising at a rate of 1.2%. It is therefore crucial that we conserve what we have left of natural habitats and put in effort to protect every species, yes, even moths! 

Since I've mentioned light pollution as one of the reason as to why moth population might be decreasing, I'll talk about light pollution in my next post! 

Bates, A., Sadler, J., Grundy, D., Lowe, N., Davis, G., & Baker, D. et al. (2014). Garden and Landscape-Scale Correlates of Moths of Differing Conservation Status: Significant Effects of Urbanization and Habitat Diversity. Plos ONE, 9(1), e86925.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Local Moth Species


I'll introduce a few local moth species!

Family Uraniidae

The moth we are most familiar with from this family is known as the tropical swallowtail moth, or Lyssa zampa. This species had always been around Singapore, but they started appearing in extremely large numbers all over the nation. The explanation is that the rise in temperature resulted in mass flowering, hence nectar abundance. I'm pretty sure most of you have seen one.

Tropical Swallowtail Moth

Family Saturniidae 

Atlas moth, from the family Saturniidae, is known as the moth with the largest wingspan. These impressive (and slightly intimidating) creatures are actually completely harmless... They don't even have mouths! (Well, most moths don't have mouths, and some drink nectar, though they are notorious for eating clothes in your wardrobe.) Can you see the saturniid pattern on its wings?

Fluttering Atlas Moth

Family Sphingidae 

These are the Hawk Moths. However, the one found in Singapore is the Death's-head Hawk moth, also known as Acherontia lachesis. Just look at that skull shape on its body!
Acherontia lachesis MHNT Female Nîlgîri (Tamil Nadu) Dorsal.jpg
Spooky Death's-head hawk moth!


Leong, T. (2008). Sphingidae of Singapore (1st ed.). Retrieved from chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/

Friday, September 25, 2015

Local Butterfly Species

I'll be introducing some local butterfly species so that everyone can keep their eyes peeled to see these amazing flyers! I'm proud to say I've seen quite a few butterflies at the Kent Ridge Park!
After some research, I realised that Singapore is really diverse in the number of butterflies! The Butterfly Interest Group, a subgroup of the Nature Society Singapore has been working hard since the nineties to compile a comprehensive guide, which is available in Botanic Gardens. 

Swallowtail Family (Papilionidae)

Common Mime Butterfly
Common Birdwing Butterfly

These butterflies are from the family Papilionidae, and they are usually large and striking, and the patterns on their wings set them apart from other families of butterflies. The Common Birdwing Butterfly is under Appendix II under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), hence it is vulnerable. Birdwings are very popular with butterfly collectors, and often found in illegal foreign wildlife trades.  

White and Sulphur Family (Pieridae)

These are medium sized flyers, and they are not always white and sulphur despite their name.

Painted Jezebel Butterfly

Family Nymphalidae Subfamily Satyrinae

These brush-footed butterflies are brown with eye patterns on their wings. They have a very distinctive way of flying; after each wingbeat, they glide through the air without moving their wings for a while!

Three Ring Butterfly

Since I've covered some butterfly species, I'll be writing about local moth species soon!