This Striped Tiger butterfly was dancing in the Myrobalan tree which is in bloom now. While his dancing partner flew away, he paused on this fading Dendrobium orchid to catch his breath.
Or perhaps to let it know that he hasnt forgotten how beautiful she had been a few days ago and how he had danced for her. I'm sure Den. Emma White appreciated the thought!
The Myrobalan tree is covered with a cloud of butterflies.... all coveting the precious nectar that its fragrance seems to be promising.
The myrobalan trees are native to Mumbai and is growing wild here. ( Frankly I was a bit uncertain about naming this tree because I'm not too sure but I checked up on a number of sites and it seemed to be a toss up between the myrobalan and the mahua, But,everything seems to point to it being a Myrobalan. If anyone knows better, please let me know so I can correct it here)
It is a pretty innocuous tree with even more innocuous flowers. But beauty seems to be in the nose (or proboscis) of the sniffer. It has definitely snared this Striped Tiger! (The flash of pink that you see in the photo above is just a wild morning glory that has just wandered over uninvited).
I have read about wild animals acting drunk when the myrobalan is in bloom. She seems to be a more accomplished seductress than she appears! Cunning little tree ... she's got them the old, old way. The way to any creature's heart seems to be through their stomach, after all.
As if not to be left out of all the fun, the Blue Tigers are very much in the scene too. Dipping and darting about to make sure the light falls just so on their wings so as to show up the pale blue markings that gave them their name.
Going back to visit old friends seems to be a habit with butterflies because I caught this Blue Tiger pausing on the dried up old flower stalk of last season's cashew. There were no flowers on this tree to lure the Tiger here yet it stopped here long enough for me to click it from various angles.
Can you see the flash of pale blue on the left wing which looks like white on the other?
You can see the Tiger and the cashew flower stalk more clearly in this photo.
The sunny interval in the monsoon season is the perfect time to watch butterflies at play in Mumbai. Usually photographing them requires quick reflexes and luck but by mid-day they grow lethargic in the sun and slow down a bit.
Having host plants for the caterpillars and nectar plants where the grown-ups can hang out and get a quick drink, increases the chances of getting one to pose for you.
The Lantana bush seems to be their favourite tipple joint. I think they like my wild lantana because its got no chemicals on it. And, of course, for all the other usual reasons too. I've left this clump of lantana only for the birds who love the berries, and for the butterflies who love the flowers. And for me ... who loves watching all of them!
Cosmos and Zinnia are other favourites with the flying rainbows. But, the strangest sight I ever saw was on a hole drilled by a couple of big wasps on my Pink Cassia tree. The two wasps drilled the hole and then hung around seemingly licking (if you can call it that) at the sap or whatever was coming out of the hole. Soon the whole tree was filled with butterflies, all trying to get at the sap too.
Even stranger was the fact that while feasting, they seemed oblivious to everything else. I could have brushed one with my hand and it would have just shuffled a step aside and then come right back again!
Every once in a while the wasps would fly off and the butterflies would jump in and feast. This even brought in butterflies I'd never seen before in my garden. I wonder if this a migratory one. I've never seen its picture in any of the sites about butterflies of Mumbai. (these two photos were from my pre-digital camera days and were taken with the camera on my cell phone so the quality is terrible, I think)
All those white string-like things on the tree trunk are just the roots of a Dendrobium orchid that I have mounted on to the tree. I wonder if that had anything to do with this strange phenomenon. But, I have another Pink Cassia tree in my garden with orchids mounted on that one too but that was not treated like an object of desire by any butterfly or wasp.
Nature has too many mysteries. Just when you think you've got one thing figured out, there comes the next puzzle. But as long as the puzzles are as beautiful as these , I dont mind. : )