Geographic location of the bug: North-East Coast of Taiwan
Time: 05:23 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Learn’d Fellows,
Every year at this time, my wild fig, having just sent forth it’s tremulous new leaves, is malevolently machete’d bare by these horned devil mowers. I have transplanted them to a wilder fig. Still I would like to know my foe. Some deep-leaf sleeper-cells remain. Thanking you, in solidarity, ever-vigilantly.
How you want your letter signed: Castellano
We believe these are butterfly caterpillars from the family Nymphalidae, and that is where we are going to begin our research. Thanks for providing the host plant. That is often extremely helpful, and that information quickly produced this FlickR image of a Common Map Butterfly Caterpillar, Cyrestis thyodamas, and the poster wrote: “The curious mind must ask, why is this caterpillar like this? My observational response is that these larvae feed on the new leaves of Ficus trees. Developing shoots appear as tightly swirled red tips at the ends of branches and these caterpillars line themselves up along the axis of open leaves, heads closest to the origin of the leaf, with their spines imitating the fresh foliage that is developing.” We like the name Common Mapwing which is used on Learn About Butterflies where it states: “The Common Mapwing is usually encountered singly or in two’s and three’s, in open forest edge habitats. Males are often seen on gravel roads or along pebble-strewn river beaches, where they bask in full sunlight while imbibing mineralised moisture. They are initially nervous and difficult to approach but once they start imbibing they tend to remain at the same spot for several minutes. Females are seen less often, but sometimes encountered along forest trails, or nectaring at flowers in forest gardens. Both sexes habitually rest beneath leaves with their wings outspread. Less commonly they will bask on the upper surface of large leaves, but tend to only do so in areas of dappled sunlight.” This represents a new species for our site.
Thank you for your gracious and comprehensive reply. I look forward to metamorphosis.
Their beauty is far from common.