Tungtong River Conservation Project

an environmental advocacy of the Holistic Education and Development Center

Category: Lepidoptera & Odonata (Butterflies, Moths, and Dragonflies)

A new chapter in TRCP history

It is with great pride that I present the first two species documented by a group of HEDCen HS yr III students who are studying the dragonflies (Order Odonata) of the Tungtong River watershed for their Science Expo 2012 project.  “Only two species?” you might say but anyone who has attempted to take macros of these flighty creatures will appreciate the amount of work poured into each of these shots.  This truly beautiful work by my students (Photos by Angelo Frejas; Group members are Diego Felizardo and Harry Shon) opens a new chapter in the effort to conserve and protect the Tungtong River.  It serves as further proof that TRCP will amount to nothing if not for the zeal with which my students pursue their research.  Cheers to all the young minds whose hearts and hands have learned to cradle Mother Nature’s treasures with care and love!

Species 1


Species 2

Other shots

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This post will be updated as soon as the species have been identified.  The group is also working on a digital taxonomic key of Tungtong River dragonflies using the Lucid system.  Watch out for more photos in the weeks to come!

New butterfly records (Nov 5, 2011 update)

New photos from the 3rd yr HS team studying the butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of the Tungtong River for their Science Expo 2012 project.  ID’s are tentative and are awaiting confirmation.  Photos by Denzi Moraleta (HEDCen HS yr III).  Group members are Chelsea Caba and Anton Solatorio.

Photo 1: Ideopsis juventa

Photo 2: Neptis mindorana

Photo 3: Mycalepsis sp1

Photo 4: Mycalepsis sp2

Photo 5: Indicus alamus =)

The first fruits of Science Expo 2011-2012

The Tungtong River Conservation Project has played host to numerous student groups who wish to conduct an environment-related Expo project.  The Science Expo is a year-long “thesis” conducted by Grade 1 to 3rd yr HS students of the Holistic Education and Development Center (HEDCen).  It culminates in a panel defense which is worth 30% of their 3rd trimester final grade.

I am currently handling 10 groups (1 from Grade 6, 1 from HSI, 1 from HSII, and 7  from HSIII).  I would like to share the first set of photos taken as valid data by the group of 3rd year students making a digital library of the watershed’s butterfly species.  They are Anton Solatorio, Chelsea Caba and Denzi Moraleta.  I am very impressed with your work so far, may you carry on with the same level of enthusiasm right up to the defense on February, 2012.  Good luck and the river is lucky to have young environmentalists such as your selves! (The following are from the very promising student-photographer Denzi Moraleta.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A fantastic beginning

One of TRCP’s goals this year is to compile a visual library of butterfly and dragonfly species in the watershed.  Our first entry is courtesy of Mr. Ely Teehankee.  Known to science as Pareronia boebera and to butterfly lovers as “The Wanderer,” little is known about this species.  Perhaps one of HEDCen’s inquisitive minds would conduct a study and shed more light on one of nature’s truly fascinating creatures.

The Butterfly Visual Library is spearheaded by HS III students Ms. Chelsea Caba, Mr. Denzi Moraleta, and Mr. Anton Solatorio.  Those in charge of The Dragonfly Visual Library, on the other hand, are HS III students Mr. Diego Felizardo, Mr. Angelo Frejas, and Mr. Harry Shon.  Both groups are pursuing these topics as their Science Expo Project for 2011-2012.

Butterfly Group: Methodology


Butterflies are known for their delicacy as a specimen. Since our studies include the discovery of native butterflies, the following methods are done to ensure validity:

1.)    Butterfly Collection. We would capture all of the butterflies that we would encounter within the perimeter of the Tungtong River and within the allotted time, with the use of nets designed for butterfly catching and captivity.

Butterfly Nets.

Ring Material – steel wires. Steel wires serve as the best ring material because of its flexibility and of its very light mass making it ideal for butterfly collection. Ring diameter – 6 inches (small) and 12 inches or 1 ft (Large; ideal size)

Net Material – mosquito nets (“kulambo”).  The idea of our study is to preserve native butterflies therefore mosquito nets are ideal for the collection of specimens. Knowing butterflies’ delicacy, the mosquito net’s light nylon material makes it safe for specimens (like the butterfly) to be caught without being damaged.

2.)   Killing the Specimens. This part is to be done in the field. After capturing the butterfly in the net, a killing jar is used to sedate the butterfly. It is recommended that one should not breathe while opening the killing jar for cyanide can cause a few organ problems if inhaled. Cyanide is a nerve gas. The butterfly must be placed inside the killing jar until it has fully died/ expired.

Killing Jars The killing jar is designed to sedate or fully kill a butterfly specimen. It uses cyanide to chemically induce the cease of a butterfly’s metabolism as well as brain function. In our version of our killing jar cyanide crystals were used, topped with a layer of sawdust and plaster.


  • Filter Paper – serves as the protection of user against very fine cyanide crystals and cyanide fumes.
  • Plaster – settles the sawdust and compresses the cyanide crystals for containment.
  • Sawdust – scatters the cyanide crystals in order to spread its effectiveness in the entire jar, and serves as a filter for huge crystals to avoid exposure to users.
  • Cyanide Crystals – chemically induces brain malfunction and metabolic dysfunction as well.

*It is recommended that one use a few crystals of cyanide so that disposal can cause minimal damage to the environment.

3.)  Storing the Specimen. After completely killing a butterfly, we carefully pick it up with forceps*, and then wrap it with wax paper.

Wax paper causes minimal damage to the scales of the butterfly’s wings as compared if we use a conventional bond paper.

The wax paper is to be made into a two-fold piece. The wax paper should have a 0.5 cm margin with basis to the butterfly’s figure. The butterfly is then placed inside. Then, the sides are to be taped after wrapping the butterfly. The specimen is then to be placed in a Petri dish to temporarily store it.

Petri dishes, or any glass compartments for that matter, are ideal temporary containers because it decreases the possibility of detrivores being able to intrude and then deteriorate and consume the butterflies’ bodies since glass is impermeable and sturdy thus would prove to be impenetrable.

*Forceps we used are the ones without teeth to prevent damage to the specimen.

4.)  Placing them in Containers. To make the specimens more presentable, we are planning on having butterfly compartments made. Since butterfly sizes inevitably vary, we decided for our butterfly compartments to have three standard sizes: small (3x3x2 inches), medium (3.5×3.5×2 inches), and large (4.5×4.5×2 inches).


Each compartment is mostly made of plywood. The top section has a sliding glass so that the butterfly specimen could easily be seen, and could also be easily accessed should an individual desire to examine the butterfly.

The butterfly should be pinned through its thorax and onto the Styrofoam. Styrofoam is ideal to serve as a board since pins could easily be used onto its surface.

The butterfly’s body should be on the board and not suspended. The butterfly’s front wings should also be pinned onto the Styrofoam, and should be 90 degrees with respect to the body. The front margins of the butterflies’ hind wings should be placed underneath each of their front wings. The hind wings are to be pinned too.

Forceps should be used in handling the butterfly specimens.

5.)  Classifying. We then categorize and differentiate the captured butterflies by determining the scientific and common names of the different species in the population with the use of reliable references and resources such as books specializing in butterfly taxonomy (should there be one), or also the Internet.

As of now, we have only used websites found in the Internet in classifying the recent batch of butterfly specimens. We still have not yet found a reliable and useful book.


Butterfly Group Data: Butterflies Collected


The butterfly group has started gathering species of butterflies for further study. They were able to capture butterflies that live in the area of the river. The studied butterflies are listed below with their scientific names. Common names are mentioned for easy purposes:

Read More

The Butterfly Group Study: The Overview

The butterfly group has sent us their partial data with regard to their butterfly study.


The Tungtong River, which is located within Taytay, Rizal and is a tributary of the Pasig River, is an ecosystem that serves as a habitat to a diverse fauna which includes several species of birds, amphibians, insects, etc.

As organisms within the mentioned ecosystem are facing problems such as endangerment, habitat destruction, pollution, and other problems brought about by human activities, our group plans to exert effort in raising awareness and the drive to conserve those species in dire situation by studying their population further.

Our group decided to give more attention on the butterfly population.

Butterflies are insects that belong to the order Lepidoptera. Butterflies are delicate invertebrates well-known for their alluring wing colors and patterns. But more than their aesthetic value, they play major roles in the biosphere and their respective ecosystems.

One of their ecological niches is their function as pollinators. It is a given fact that some plants’ existence and population are solely dependent on the butterflies. Butterflies are also used as indicators of the quality of the environment and atmosphere as they are sensitive to pollution.

Our objective in this study is to determine all the butterfly species we would encounter inhabiting within the perimeter of the river area. In the process of discovering the variety of butterfly species, we also seek to learn if any of the species we encountered could be considered as native species. Encountering and discovering one or more endemic butterfly species would all the more heighten the necessity to conserve this ecosystem, and also the native butterfly species that are to be discovered assuming that there are.

We have already begun collecting a variety of butterfly specimens, and we also have started classifying some. There are still some butterflies yet to be caught and classified. We have hopes that there are endemic species among the batch.

Related Literature:

Sodhi and Posa, two students of the National University of Singapore and of the University of the Philippines respectively, have conducted a study in the forests of Subic, Philippines on the relation of the abundance and prevalence of bird and butterfly species with the type of environment that they are in. They have also surveyed the endemicity of the species that they have encountered.

They have chosen these two particular organisms due to their belief that these two organisms serve as indicators. According to them, birds and butterflies are ideal indicators of the level of atmospheric and environmental pollution and disturbance as they are sensitive to these factors, and so therefore, the relation between the population of these animals and their respective surroundings would be credible to the notion that the alteration of habitats is a factor in the decrease of these organisms’ population.

Due to the obvious fact that butterflies are indeed greatly affected by human activities, they also surveyed the butterfly species. Knowing the endemic species would hopefully all the more heighten the necessity to conserve those areas and those specific organisms.

Once sustaining large areas of forest lands that in turn also supported a huge biodiversity, the Philippines is now facing deforestation and forest degradation which consequently also affects the several fauna communities due to the massive habitat destruction and pollution brought about by the urbanization process and other human activities, and so now, these species, both endemic and not, are dealing with possible endangerment.

These two students surveyed both forest areas and man-made settings. They had their surveys during days with fine weather and typically during hours close to noon since those are the ideal conditions that butterflies roam and venture out. In each setting they took note of the butterfly species that happen to inhabit that area and they also took note of the frequency of the butterflies’ appearance. Along the process they also classified them as either endemic or not.

They have monitored 31 butterfly species with eight of these being endemic.

They later on compared the results between the two settings and concluded that there are indeed more butterfly species inhabiting in forest areas over man-made territories. Their hypotheses to explain this are: the modification of the area, the difference in level of disturbance, the presence of plant and vegetation, and the pollution status of the given environment.

Only few species were observed able to venture and adapt to the man-made setting.

They have recommended that the remaining mature forests should be conserved and no longer to be disturbed by human activities so that the organisms, both endemic and not, inhabiting in these ecosystems are consequently to be preserved as well. They also have recommended for an increase in future ecological researches so that the “biological knowledge of the Philippines” also widens.


1.) DeAngelis, Jack. “Insect Collecting, Catching Insects, Sweep and Butterfly Nets,                              Killing Jar, Pitfall Trap.” 25 Jan. 2010. 19 Aug. 2010                                                                    <http://www.livingwithbugs.com/P2-0805.html>.

2.) Werner, Ulrich and Jaroslaw Buszko. “Detecting biodiversity hotspots using species-                    area and endemics-area relationships: the case of butterflies.” 1 Mar. 2004. 19 Aug              2010 <http://www.home.umk.pl/~ulrichw/Publications/Butterflyhotspots.pdf>.

3.) Thomas, C., S. Glen, O. Lewis, J. Hill, and D. Blakeley. “Population differentiation and              conservation of endemic races: the butterfly, Plebejus argus.” 22 Jul. 1998. 19 Aug                2010 <http://users.ox.ac.uk/~zool0376/PargusAnimalConserv.pdf>.

4.) Ross, Gary. “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Butterflies.”                                            22 Aug 2010 <http://www.fwbg.org/content/Butterflies101.pdf>.

5.)  Posa, Mary and Navjot Sodhi. “Effects of anthropogenic land use on forest birds and                 butterflies in Subic Bay, Philippines”.31 Oct 2005. 25 Oct 2010<                                                http://planet.botany.uwc.ac.za/NISL/Biodiversity/Attachments/Philippines.pdf>.

6.) http://pbh-butterflies.yolasite.com/philippine-butterflies.php

7.) http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Entomology/ythfacts/4h/unit1/mkjar.htm

8.) http://abutterflyart.wordpress.com/kinds-of-philippine-lepidoptera/

9.) http://www.docstoc.com/docs/25450550/LIST-OF-PHILIPPINE-BUTTERFLIES

10.) http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3A9tlHS8yoWkgJ%3Alntreasures.com%2Fphilippinesl.html+what+butterflies+are+endemic+to+the+philippines&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén