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Solar Terms Butterfly Survey


The 24 solar terms calendar was devised by the ancient Chinese to match natural phenomena, and combined observations from astronomy, meteorology, biometeorology (which covers relationships between weather and living things) and agricultural experiences. In the past, farmers used the 24 solar terms calendar to forecast weather and predict crop yields. In light of that, we commenced Hong Kong's first research on the relationship between solar terms and butterfly ecology at two butterfly hotspots: Shing Mun Country Park and Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve.

The research allows us to obtain long-term data on solar terms and local butterfly ecology, such as species, abundances and behavior. Thus, the result contributes to the analysis and investigation of local butterfly ecology.

The research in Shing Mun Country Park and Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve showed significant fluctuations in butterfly species and abundance according to different solar terms, and the data collected in the two survey locations showed very similar trends. Our findings indicated that there is a relationship between abundance of butterflies and solar terms. Moreover, during the investigation, we also discovered that Shing Mun was located on the path along which Danaid butterflies arrive at their winter roosts in Hong Kong - i.e. Shing Mun is one of the locations on their migration routes.

Based on data from the past 10 years, there are three solar terms each year in which the numbers of butterfly species and individual butterflies will markedly increase. These three solar terms are “vernal equinox” (20th or 21st March), “corn on ear” (5th or 6th June) and “winter commences” (7th or 8th November).

2018
  • In progress
2017
  • Data collation in progress
2016
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Summer commences”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Moderate heat”.
2015
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Summer commences”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Bright and clear”.
2014
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Corn on ear”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Autumn commences”.
2013
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Corn on ear” and “Moderate heat”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was also recorded on “Moderate heat”.
2012
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Corn on ear”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Winter commences”.
  • The number of butterfly species and individuals surged on “Insects waken”, in particular for the nymphs.
2011
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Great heat”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Summer commences”.
  • The number of butterfly species surged on “Vernal equinox”, and started to drop after “Winter commences”.
2010
  • The largest number of butterfly species and individuals was recorded on “Corn on ear”.
  • The number of butterfly species and individuals surged on “Insects waken”, in particular for the swallowtails.
2009
  • The largest number of butterfly species and individuals was recorded on “Winter commences”.
  • There were three peaks in butterfly numbers, including ”Vernal equinox”, “Corn rain” and “Winter commences”.
  • Diverse butterfly species were found even on “Moderate cold” and “Severe cold”.
2008
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Summer commences”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Winter commences”.
  • The number of butterfly species and individuals surged quickly after “Summer commences” and “Corn forms”.
2007
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Frost”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Winter commences”.
  • Shing Mun was identified as a location along the migration route of Danaids in Hong Kong.
2006
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Bright and clear”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Frost”.
2005
  • “Solar Terms Butterfly Survey” was launched on “Spring Commences”.
  • The largest number of butterfly species was recorded on “Frost”, while the largest number of butterfly individuals was recorded on “Winter commences”.
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Shing Mun Country Park
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Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve

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