Filipino biologist discovers new butterfly subspecies in Negros peak

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2020 03:09 PM

Photo from the Nachrichten des Entomologischen Vereins Apollo study

MANILA - A Filipino biologist has discovered a new butterfly subspecies - the Appias phoebe nuydai- up a volcano in Negros Oriental. 

Jade Badon, 29, a biologist and instructor at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City, told ABS-CBN News that he first found it when he hiked up Mount Talinis in Negros Oriental back in 2012.

Its discovery has just been published in the entomological journal Nachrichten des Entomologischen Vereins Apollo this month.

The biologist from Siaton town in the same province said the new subspecies of high-elevation butterflies was collected around Lake Nailig, a crater lake near the Talinis summit, during his research expedition with some members of an organization from the University of the Philippines Cebu.

Later on it was deposited in the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity and other institutions in Florida, the biologist said.

Badon said in August 2019, he realized during a wildlife conservation symposium at the Visayas State University in Leyte that the collected specimen was a different subspecies of the Appias phoebe. 

"I compared the specimens to other specimens collected in other parts of the country. I was surprised and happy to know that it is something new," he told ABS-CBN News.

He said he named the butterfly after Justin Nuyda, a contemporary painter and one of the first Filipinos to document the country's butterflies.

"I named it after Justin S. Nuyda because of the significant contributions to the study of Philippine butterflies, and he's never been to the peak of Mount Talinis," he said.

Badon said the Appias phoebe nuydai subspecies is the sixth of its kind found in the country. 

Other subspecies are as follows: 

  • Appias phoebe phoebe found in north and south Luzon
  • Appias phoebe mindana found in Mindanao 
  • Appias phoebe montana found in Mount Canlaon in Negros Island
  • Appias phoebe rowelli found in Palawan
  • Appias phoebe zamorra found in Mindoro

Badon, who earned his biology degree at the Silliman University and masters and doctoral degrees in entomology and nematology at the University of Florida, said he pursued the study as he would always see Mount Talinis from a distance. 

He finally became part of the expeditions in 2012.

"I got interested in the study because I am curious about the butterflies that I might find in any expeditions," he said.

The biologist said that if given the opportunity, he would conduct more studies on the abundance, female specimen and the behavior of the subspecies at night.

"I will conduct a followup study to determine their abundance and their preferred habitats."