Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Dispatch From the Spice Islands

I’ve been in Penang for a little less than 36 hours. I’m here for ICBES, the International Congress of Butterfly Exhibitors and Suppliers.

It has been an exciting visit so far. Above is the view from my hotel room. Most of yesterday until mid-afternoon was taken up with various meetings related tot he butterfly display industry. I sneaked out for a few minutes at lunch and walked across the street to the beach. My first-ever view of the Indian Ocean was not terribly inspiring (from our location, you see mostly a blank expanse of sea) but I got a few photos of shorebirds on rocks. Nancy’s field guide to birds of southeast Asia says that this one is a common sandpiper. On the way back in to the meeting, I photographed a huge metallic bee. This species makes the huge carpenter bees that I see around Tucson look like sweat bees.

Common Sandpiper

Big-ass Bee

Just how packed our time is going to be was hinted at by the fact that we did not start doing anything outside the meeting room until nearly 3 in the afternoon. We bundled up into a couple of buses and headed up the road to a spice farm. It was interesting to see the nutmeg and clove trees, but much more interesting was the diverse insect life that we began to encounter almost immediately. There is a stream running through the spice farm, and there were dragonflies everywhere.

A couple of the colorful dragonflies from the spice farm

There were some fascinating grasshoppers.

Another bird grasshopper (Schistocerca)
Similar to what I saw in Florida, only bigger and more colorful

I love the tropics!!!

I could have stayed longer, but the group was loaded back on the bus to visit a batik factory. Then we visited the butterfly farm that is hosting this year’s conference. We saw both the public display area and the area devoted to butterfly production. The host farm is one of our suppliers of butterflies, so it was pleasant to be able to see the facility.

Breeding Room at the Tropical Entomological House (TEH) Butterfly Farm

Lacewing Butterfly (Cethosia) at the TEH butterfly exhibit

Lacewing Butterfly Larvae at the TEH Butterfly Farm

Dinner was at a seafood restaurant that featured a floor show of regional dance. Between the jet lag and a late night I’m pretty shot right now- yet later this afternoon brings the promise of more of Malaysia’s natural beauty. First, it’s downstairs for some more meetings.

Semi-traditional dance (the music was Bollywood soundtrack)

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At 19:56, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Love the big bee and the great bugs.

Have a great time and don't forget to post.


At 01:15, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Doug, you get to do so many cool things!

Wonderful post.
Interesting bugs!
Cute bird!
Have fun!

At 05:09, Blogger Roy said...

The Lacewing is such a colourful species Doug and unusually the Larvae appear to have matching colours.

At 06:16, Blogger Chilmarkgirl said...

WOW- fabulous pictures- WHAT a Trip! More pictures please!

At 18:27, Blogger Gaelyn said...

That second grasshopper is weird. The Lacewing is gorgeous. Interesting to see the larve in similar colors. Looks to be a fun time.

At 09:31, Blogger robin andrea said...

I love seeing what you're seeing there, doug. Such beautiful bugs.

At 17:41, Blogger Floridacracker said...

What? No giant black dogs or rattlesnakes?

How can this be fun?

At 07:53, Blogger Gallicissa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 16:14, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

Big ass bee? More like a B-52!

At 23:26, Blogger Ur-spo said...

just don't get no jungle fevers!

At 23:54, Blogger Gallicissa said...

Your first dragon looks like Neurothemis fluctuans. It does not occur in Sri Lanka. I have photographed it in Singapore.

The second one is tough. However, if I am asked to identify it at gunpoint, I would say Orthetrum chrysis.

Love the grasshoppers.

At 13:14, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Troy- Thanks. Will be posting more now that I'm back home. Posting from Malaysia was difficult for a variety of reasons.

Kathie- Thanks. I had a blast.

Roy- I have a feeling that both larvae and adults are toxic, hencce the bright colors.

CG- Thanks. It was fun doing live chat with you from halfway around the world.

Gaelin- I agree, the grasshopper is totally bizarre.

Robin- It was fun. More to come.

FC- Well, my recent experiences with giant black dogs and rattlesnakes were also fun.

Dave- Definitely! That sucker was huge. Also fairly common- I saw them in many different spots.

Spo- So far, so good.

Amila-- Thanks for the IDs.


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