Which subspecies of Ancyra Blue exists in Singapore?

December 2016

Mr. Teo T. P. has been studying butterflies of Singapore and West Malaysia for many decades. During this time, he has gathered a thorough knowledge of identification features that can be used to differentiate cryptic species and subspecies. In this post, Mr. Teo examines the known subspecies of Ancyra Blue (Catopyrops ancyra) from Southeast to understand which subspecies might we have in Singapore.

Why now? Ancyra Blue is a recent discovery in Singapore, first recorded in 2004 at Pulau Ubin. The butterfly has since become relatively common and spotted regularly from multiple locations in the central catchment forests as well as the southern and western parts of Singapore. Since the discovery of Ancyra Blue, some of us naively thought that the subspecies found in Singapore may be the same subspecies “aberrans” as found in Malaysia. Mr. Teo demonstrates why this may not be the case. 

Figure 1. Uppersides of Catopyrops ancyra males Singapore & Malaysian subsp.

Figure 2. Undersides of Catopyrops ancyra Singapore & Malaysian subsp.

Photo credits: Mr. Teo T. P.

Figure 1 and 2 compare the uppersides and undersides of Singaporean and Malaysian Catopyrops ancyra subspecies (marked with numbers 1 to 7), which correspond with different features mentioned below. The differences suggest that the subspecies of C. ancyra found in Singapore is not “aberrans“.

(Aberrations:  FW = forewing,      HW = hindwing,      Up = upperside,    Un = underside,    subsp. = subspecies).


(1) Singapore subsp. is bluer and while the Malaysian subspecies “aberrans” is more purplish. Also, the Singapore subsp. is smaller in size.

(2) The black border on termen of the UpFW is broader for Malaysian subsp. and narrower for Singapore subsp.

(3) On the UpHW of “aberrans“, the marginal black spots in spaces 3, 4 and 5 are obvious; these spots are trace markings or obscured for Singapore subspecies.


(4) Almost all the post-discal, cell-end and sub-discal striae that outlined with white on both wings are darker (beige) colour in “aberrans” and same as the ground for Singapore subsp.

(5) The submarginal arrow headed markings on UnFW are more defined in Malaysian subsp. than the Singapore race.

(6) UnHW post-discal spot in space 2 is more or less in line with spot in space 1b for “aberrans” and dislocated (or shifted inwardly) for Singapore subsp.

(7) UnHW the subtornal black spots in spaces 1b and 2 more orange crowned for Malaysian subsp. than Singapore subsp., particularly the one in space 2.


Mr. Teo also compiled the 16 known subspecies of Catopyrops ancyra for reference. Since 1938, Dr. A. S. Corbet reported C. ancyra aberrans is rare in Malaya, it remains a rarely seen butterfly in Malaysia today.

Table 1. Catopyrops ancyra subspecies recorded in Southeast Asia

References used in Table 1:

1. Braby M. F. (2000). Butterflies of Australia – Their identification, biology & distribution volumes 1 & 2, 1008pp, CSIRO Publishing.

2. Cassidy, A. C. (1985). An enlarged checklist of Brunei butterflies (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) including descriptions of one new species and one new subspecies. The Brunei Museum Journal vol. 6 (1-3) : 135-168.

3. Cassidy, A. C. (1990). On Nacaduba and allied genera (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) from the Sulawesi region. Tyó to Ga, vol. 41(4) : 227-241.

4. Corbet, A. S. (1938). A revision of the Malayan species of the Nacaduba group of genera (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London vol. 87(5) : 125-146.

5. Corbet, A. S. & H. M. Pendlebury (1992). The Butterflies of the Malay Peninsula, 4th edition revised by J. N. Eliot. 595pp. Malayan Nature Society.

6. D’Abrera B. (1986). Butterflies of the Oriental region, part III: Lycaenidae & Riodinidae. p536-672. Hill House, Melbourne, Australia.

7. Evans, W. H. (1932). The identification of Indian butterflies. 454pp. The Bombay Natural History Society.

8. Fleming W. A. (1983). Butterflies of West Malaysia & Singapore. 2nd edition revised by Alix McCartney. 148pp. Longman Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.

9. Itioka T., Yamamoto, T., Tzuchiya T., Okubo T., Yago, M. Seki Y., Ohshima Y., Katsuyama R.., Chiba H. & O. Yata. (2009). Butterflies collected in and around Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia in Borneo. Contributions from the Biological Laboratory of Kyoto University vol. 30 (1) : 25-68.

10. Kimura Y., T. Aoki, S. Yamaguchi, Y. Uémura & T. Saito. (2014). The Butterflies of Thailand  – Based on Yunosuke Kimura Collection, volume 2 – Lycaenidae, 245pp.  Mokuyosha, Japan.

11. Lu C. C. & Y. F., Hsu. (2002). Catopyrops ancyra almora, a lycaenid butterfly new to Taiwan: a case of biological invasion from the Philippines. BioFormosa vol. 37 (1) : 25-30.

12. Miyazaki, S., T. Saito, K. Kishi & K. Saito. (2010). Notes on the butterflies of the southern part of Vietnam (7). Yadoriga No. 226 : 18-41.

13. Monastyrskii, A. L. & A. L. Devyatkin (2015). Butterflies of Vietnam  – An illustrated checklist, 2nd ed . Hanoi,  Planorama Media Co. Ltd

14. Parsons, M. (1999). The Butterflies of Papua New Guinea – Their systematics & biology, 736pp, Academic Press.

15. Pinratana, Bro. A. (1981). Butterflies of Thailand, volume 4 – Lycaenidae. 215pp. Viratham Press.

16. Pisuth, Ek-Amnuay (2012). Butterflies of Thailand, 2nd  revised edition, 941pp. Amarin Printing & Pub. Co.

17. Seki, Y., Y. Takanami & K. Otsuka (1991). Butterflies of Borneo volume 2, no. 1 – Lycaenidae. 113pp. Tobishima Corporation, Japan.

18. Tennent, W. J. (2002). Butterflies of the Solomon Islands  – Systematics & biogeography. 413pp. Storm Entomological Publ.

19. Tite, G. E. (1963). A synonymic list of the genus Nacaduba and allied genera. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Entomology, vol. 13, No. 4 : 67-116.  

20. Vane-Wright, R. I. & R. de Jong (2003). The Butterflies of Sulawesi : Annotated checklist for a critical island fauna. Zoologische  Verhandelingen  Leiden , vol. 343: 1-267.



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