Butterflies are more than just pretty little things

In 2002, a 150-year-old Hopea sangal in Changi, thought to be the last of its kind in Singapore, was felled illegally. Seeds salvaged from it were nurtured into saplings which have since been planted in various places. The Yellow streak darter (Salan
The common birdwing is one of the largest butterfly species in Singapore. This protected species used to be relatively uncommon in Singapore. But through various efforts by ButterflyCircle and National Parks Board (NParks), it is now considered moderately common.PHOTO: COURTESY OF KHEW SIN KHOON
In 2002, a 150-year-old Hopea sangal in Changi, thought to be the last of its kind in Singapore, was felled illegally. Seeds salvaged from it were nurtured into saplings which have since been planted in various places. The Yellow streak darter (Salan
The Bulbophyllum pulchellum is a native orchid which was rediscovered in 2010 at Nee Soon Swamp. This species was thought to be extinct and was last collected more than 50 years ago. The species has been propagated by NParks and reintroduced successfully to various areas. PHOTO: NPARKS
The Bulbophyllum pulchellum is a native orchid which was rediscovered in 2010 at Nee Soon Swamp. This species was thought to be extinct and was last collected more than 50 years ago. The species has been propagated by NParks and reintroduced successf
The Yellow streak darter (Salanoemia tavoyana) is an extremely rare butterfly, and was first spotted in 2011. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KHEW SIN KHOON
The Neptune's cup sponge was so highly sought after by collectors that it was thought to have gone extinct by the early 1900s, until its rediscovery in Singapore waters in 2011.
The Neptune's cup sponge was so highly sought after by collectors that it was thought to have gone extinct by the early 1900s, until its rediscovery in Singapore waters in 2011.PHOTO: NPARKS

Butterflies are attuned to the slightest change in their habitat, and are good indicators of environment's health

They have flamboyant names, and wings like stained glass windows.

But Singapore's native butterflies - the plain lacewing, harlequin and courtesan, to name just a few - are a poster child for more than their beauty. They are also good indicators of the health of the environment.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2018, with the headline 'More than just pretty little things'. Print Edition | Subscribe