Uncovering the amazing world of forest critters – Love MacRitchie Walk (February 2018)

It certainly doesn’t take size to wow. From fairylike damselflies to warriorlike spiders, it was the critters that stole the limelight in the NUS Toddycat’s first Love MacRitchie walk of the year!

Some weren’t hard to spot at all – here’s a Malayan Lascar basking on a leaf. If its distinctive yellow-black banding was for camouflage, then that’s a terrible place to take a break, li’l buddy!

Chloe - Malayan Lascar
Malayan Lascar butterfly (Lasippa tiga siaka)

Also, nobody could miss the menacing silhouette of a female Golden orb web spider against the bright sky. The females of this species are some of the largest spiders you can find in Singapore and the huge intricate webs they spin are truly magnificent.

Erin - Orb Web
Golden orb web spider (Nephila pilipes)

Then there’s this Spiny orb-weaver spider, a much smaller relative of the Golden orb web spider above. This one seems like it’s trying a little too hard to look fierce…to the point of looking cute instead (A little reminiscent of a role-playing Lucas, doesn’t it?).

Chloe - Spiny orb web
Spiny orb-weaver spider (Gasteracantha sp.)

Last but not least, we’ve got a beauty here. Illuminated by the crisp morning sun, iridescent blue sparkles danced among the trees as two Common flashwing damselflies chased each other around. Their sparkles are said to be especially obvious during sunrise and sunset. Luckily we were up early to spot them!

Chloe - Common flashwing
Common flashwing damselfly (Vestalis amethystina)

Apart from looking fabulous and unique in their own ways, forest critters play important roles in the forest ecosystem they live in. Damselflies are voracious carnivores that feed on many insects, including mosquitoes, while they themselves are prey for larger animals. Butterflies help to pollinate flowers when they feed on nectar, thereby helping in the propagation of plant species. Harming or removing any of them may thus cause damage in multiple aspects of the forest ecosystem.

We run such risks when destructive activities such as the Cross Island Line works occur within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

As of late 2017, site investigation (SI) works to assess the feasibility of tunnelling the MRT line either under or around the nature reserve have almost concluded. We’re now waiting to hear the results. Whatever the outcome, we certainly hope that the authorities have accounted for these tiny, often underappreciated creatures, and that mitigation measures have been planned to protect their habitats from damage.

For now, do take some time to learn more about our forest critters. Why not join us on our next walk, where we’ll be able to point some out to you?

P.S. Visit our Facebook, Instagram and Flickr pages for more pictures of what we saw that day, including some of the larger animals that popped by!

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