New butterfly subspecies discovered by Filipino biologist in Mount Talinis, Negros Island

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 18) — It was eight years ago when biologist Jade Badon hiked Mount Talinis in his home province Negros Oriental and collected two butterflies puddling in a lake.

Little did he know that the creatures would become a new discovery in the scientific world.

Endemic to the Philippines, the species Appias phoebe is rare and found only in high elevations, according to the article published this month on German entomological journal NEVA.

Badon said he noticed the butterflies lying around Lake Nailig, a crater lake near the summit, situated more than 1,500 meters above sea level.

The specimens were brought to the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity in Florida, US, where Badon was taking his master’s degree under a scholarship program.

It was only in August last year when the Dumaguete-based biologist realized that his findings were a new subspecies of the Appias phoebe.

“I attended the annual Philippine Biodiversity Symposium at the Visayas State University in Leyte. I scanned the pages of my book again and saw that my discovery looks different than the ones I saw from other publications. So I did my research and found that there is no collection of that subspecies," Badon told CNN Philippines on Thursday.

He named it Appias phoebe nuydai — a homage to contemporary painter and lepidopterist Justin “Tiny” Nuyda, who is said to hold the largest Philippine butterfly collection in the country.

This is not a first for Nuyda as foreign scientists have already named butterflies after him for his contributions to the field. He has described and discovered more than 200 species and subspecies of local butterflies, according to his daughter Ayni.

Badon shared that he surprised Nuyda with the news on Wednesday despite their encounter in February when the publication was already in progress. "He had a collection of that butterfly species and I asked to see it. He asked me why I was interested, but it was already in the process," Badon recalled.

“Jade Badon is a friend of ours. We support his work. We are very happy for his research effort and his dedication to science. Something you rarely see in the Philippines due to the difficulty of producing income... My father is very happy that a young Filipino scientist shares the same level of interest for our winged jewels. This is a rare situation," Ayni told CNN Philippines.

The Appias phoebe nuydai is among six subspecies under the Appias phoebe, which was first collected in the mountains of Luzon in 1861. The other subspecies were found in South and North Luzon, Northwest Mindanao, North Negros, South Palawan, and Mindoro.