Around 1:30 AM after a really late night call at my hospital I was returning back home for a well deserved sleep, I saw this butterfly sitting on a dry vine near corridor of my house. I could make out that it was a butterfly from the way it was sitting with wings folded. Dim light of corridor did not help me to identify it. Once I saw the butterfly all my tiredness vanished and I wanted to photograph it. I slowly tiptoed into the house to grab and assemble all my macro rig without waking my family.
Once I got my Canon EOS 5D mark II with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM fitted with ExpoImaging Ray Flash Adapter on a Canon Speedlite 580EX II, I headed back to the butterfly. I use a led headlight to illuminate the butterfly so that I can focus in such a dark night. For macro photography I prefer manual focus over auto. Using the led headlight I can fine tune focus setting. For macro focusing I use a simple trick. I rotate the focus ring of the lens to a nearest focus position and then move my whole camera towards the subject till it is in perfect focus. If I overshoot, I back off till I get subject in full focus and then squeeze the shutter release. This allows my left hand to be free. I use my left hand to stabilize the branch where the subject is sitting so that I get a steady shot in case of a breeze. That night there was no breeze and the butterfly was sitting without moving hoping that it gets unnoticed in that darkness.
It was a Tailed Palmfly(Elymnias caudata). In the past this butterfly was considered as caudata subspecies of Common Palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra caudata). Now Common Palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra) and Tailed Palmfly(Elymnias caudata) are considered separate species. It is the most common and widely distributed Palmfly and the only one found in South India. Common in jungles and palm plantations. Avoids bright sunlight and rarely comes out into the open. Occurs in the plains and up to 1700 m in the hills. Active through out the year in South India. With weak flight,settles for a long time on leaves or trunks of palm trees at some height from the ground.
It lays its eggs on palm trees belonging to Arecaceae family like Coconut (Cocos nucifera), Areca Nut (Areca catechu), Rattan Palm (Calamus rotang), Loureiro’s Date Palm (Phoenix lourerii) Oilpalm (Elaeis guineensis), Yellow or Golden Cane Palm (Dypsis lutescens) and Chinese fan palm(Livistona chinensis).
This butterfly species is dimorphic, males and females do not look alike. Males exhibit black colored upperside forewings with small blue patches and reddish brown color on upperside hindwings, while the females mimic butterfly species of the genus Danaus. Sine I could not visualize the upperside of this specimen I am not sure whether it is male or female.