Nearly half of Singapore's butterfly species are extinct: Study

Some wiped out before they were discovered; loss of specific plants, deforestation to blame

Some of Singapore's native butterflies that are still present include the white tipped baron (left) and the painted jezebel. It could be an encouraging sign that half the butterfly species still remain even after Singapore's rapid transformation, say
Of the 236 butterfly species thought to be locally extinct, 132 are known species such as the green dragontail (above), the wavy maplet and the yellow barred. PHOTOS: GAN CHEONG WEEI
Some of Singapore's native butterflies that are still present include the white tipped baron (left) and the painted jezebel. It could be an encouraging sign that half the butterfly species still remain even after Singapore's rapid transformation, say
Of the 236 butterfly species thought to be locally extinct, 132 are known species such as the green dragontail, the wavy maplet (above) and the yellow barred. PHOTOS: GAN CHEONG WEEI
Some of Singapore's native butterflies that are still present include the white tipped baron (left) and the painted jezebel. It could be an encouraging sign that half the butterfly species still remain even after Singapore's rapid transformation, say
Of the 236 butterfly species thought to be locally extinct, 132 are known species such as the green dragontail, the wavy maplet and the yellow barred (above). PHOTOS: GAN CHEONG WEEI
Some of Singapore's native butterflies that are still present include the white tipped baron (left) and the painted jezebel. It could be an encouraging sign that half the butterfly species still remain even after Singapore's rapid transformation, say
Some of Singapore's native butterflies that are still present include the white tipped baron (above) and the painted jezebel. It could be an encouraging sign that half the butterfly species still remain even after Singapore's rapid transformation, says NUS Associate Professor Ryan Chisholm, who was involved in the study. PHOTOS: TEA YI KAI
Some of Singapore's native butterflies that are still present include the white tipped baron (left) and the painted jezebel. It could be an encouraging sign that half the butterfly species still remain even after Singapore's rapid transformation, say
Some of Singapore's native butterflies that are still present include the white tipped baron and the painted jezebel (above). It could be an encouraging sign that half the butterfly species still remain even after Singapore's rapid transformation, says NUS Associate Professor Ryan Chisholm, who was involved in the study. PHOTOS: TEA YI KAI

Almost half of Singapore's native butterfly species have disappeared over the past 160 years, with the loss of specific plants and deforestation being key drivers of the local extinctions.

Of the 236 butterfly species thought to be locally extinct, 132 are known species such as the green dragontail and chocolate tiger butterflies. There are 413 native species of butterflies in Singapore.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 12, 2020, with the headline 'Study: Nearly half of S'pore's butterfly species extinct'. Print Edition | Subscribe