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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Butterfly of India

10-15 AM
Butterfly General

The word butterfly has curious origins. Butterflies get their name from the yellow brimstone butterfly of Europe that is first seen in the early spring or "butter" season? The Anglo- Saxons used the word Butterfloege because their most common butterfly was the yellow brimstone butterfly. The spread of the English colonies and their subsequent influence on the natives carried forward in the butterfly tradition. In many languages butterfly means “licker of milk”. The Russians call them Babochka, meaning little soul. Ancient civilizations have depicted butterflies as little angels or souls, such that when people die, their souls go to heaven as butterflies. The importance of butterflies in many early civilizations is recorded in prehistoric caves and their depiction in pottery and fresco paintings. The best known example is the representation of the goddess Xochiquetzal in the form of a two-tailed, swallow-tailed butterfly. In all irrespective of age, people from all walks of life associate butterflies as friendly and soothing to the eyes, mind body and soul. We can very well smell and see if the air is good and clean, as we see a fluttering butterfly - which avoids polluted air.

Butterfly of India

Biologists estimate that worldwide there are about 150,000 different species of butterflies and moths, in which approximately 30,000 belong to the butterfly species. The size of a few species of butterflies ranges from less than an inch in size to a wing span of about 10 inches. The smallest species are no bigger than a fingernail and the largest swallowtails are larger than the smallest birds. The world’s tiniest known species, the blue pygmy (Brephidium exilis), is found in Southern California and has a wing span of just over half an inch. Both the world’s smallest butterflies occur in peninsular India. The largest species, the New Guineas Queen Alexandria’s bird wing (Ornithoptera Alexandrae) can measure up to twelve inches from wingtip to wingtip. The Goliath Bird wing butterfly is the second-largest butterfly in the world.

Butterflies and moths are some of the most fascinating and eye-catching flying insects. A vast majority are brightly coloured and are found all over the world, except in the Antarctica region. They are indeed one of the planet’s most beautiful creatures. People from all walks of life, irrespective of race, colour or religion enjoy these beautiful winged flying jewels for their delicate beauty. In India, most butterfly species are found associated with tropical rainforests.

Papilionidae, the swallowtail butterfly family, consists of about 550 species of which 84 are found in India. Most swallowtails are large, brilliantly coloured and extremely beautiful. Butterflies from this family are commonly found in both tropical and temperate habitats.

The metalmark butterflies get their name from the small metallic looking spots that are commonly found on their wings. In India these butterflies are commonly known as the Punches & Judies. There are about 1000 species of metalmark butterflies worldwide of which only 16 are found in India.

A family of generally small butterflies with short stout bodies and a characteristic rapid, skipping flight. They actively feed on flower nectar and most species have proboscises that are much longer than butterflies of any other family. Skippers are very difficult to identify in the field and require close examination and study for specie level identification.

Some of the important farms, reserve area and parks in the Indian peninsular

Surat : [Gujarat State in Western Coast of Indian peninsular]

Surat Butterfly park will have presence of 10,000 butterflies consisting 30 different species. Some of the butterfly species that would be presented in the park are Tony Coaster, Common crow, Indian Cupid, Pell Grass blue, Blue Tiger, Striped Tiger, Common Serulin, Red Pirot, Blue Pensi, Common Coaster, Common Leopard, Common Gull, Common Nawab, Peacock Pensi, Dinide Egg fly, Common Bluebottle, Grey Pensi, Lime Butterfly, Lemon Pensi, Common Rose, Great Egg fly, Blue Mormon, Yellow Pensi, Crimson Rose, Common Mormon, Tailed Jay, Common Emigrant, Red Halon, Common Grass Yellow, Common Jazzble.

Delhi :

The Lodhi Gardens in Delhi is hosting a wide variety of butterflies in a dedicated conservatory that was inaugurated recently.

This is the first of its kind in the capital region of Rep. of India. The New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) is one of the agencies involved in the project. “A portion of the Lodhi Gardens, three acres in size, has been converted into a butterfly conservatory. A small insectory has also been created, with 22 host plants for butterfly larvae. This is the first of its kind in Delhi,

Pune : [ Maharashtra of India on the western coast of peninsular]

The Pune Municipal Corporation funded the park with 50 million rupees. The place has been converted from a dirty drain into a beautiful park.

This park in Pune is the house for hundreds of colourful butterflies. The park is spread across two acres of land in Sahakar Nagar in the city in a greenish habitat and environ. Here the visitors can watch rare species of the butterflies.

This park has been formed due to the reason that the green cover is fast becoming extinct in major cities. This park also comprises of a conservator, museum. There is also an audio visual room having 200 very odd species. on display. It has a rock garden, waterfalls and a very green cover to attract butterflies and this environment will definitely make the visits happy and enjoy the scenes. A track has also been put in the park for jogging. The track has trees on both sides and it runs along the drain. The park has a variety of butterfly such as Plain Tiger, Leg Fancy, Cross Yellow, Common Castor, Common Crow and Lime. According to the forest conservators, the park is an effort to start a gene pool and control depletion of butterflies, which are significant ecological indicators.

Western Ghats of India :

The Western Ghats is home to hundreds of species of rare, endemic and exotic species of colourful butterflies, some of them extremely rare. Some species are so rare that they are found nowhere else in the world. The region boasts of approximately 350 species of butterflies. They come in a variety of sizes with two pairs of large wings. The color pattern varies from species to species and has a definite role to play in the protection of the species. If one were to closely observe the wings, they are covered with overlapping rows of tiny scales. This range starts from South Gujarat and extends upto kanniyakumari in the South. This range has fine tropical rainforests. We can find some of the finest and most colourful and interesting species of this butterfly. Among them, Five Bar Sword tail [pathysa antipathes] is found very much in this area. These Western Ghats have representatives Afro tropical region like Joker [byblia ilithyia], small orange and red tips [colotis sp]


Kerala state is a home for about 330 species of butterfly. Of this 37 are endemic to this area. Of the species, the common jezebel [Delias eucharis] is a delightful visitor to this area. Here in the wet and rainy jungles, map butterfly [cyrestis thyodamus] is seen much.

Kerala is one of the eighteen 'biodiversity centres' of the world. This land is home to more than 500 birds and 330 butterfly species, 37 of these endemic to this region. According to Birdlife International, it is also one of eight 'centres of endemism' in the Indian Subcontinent. Comprising of the largest in India, the Southern or Western Ghats Birdwing (Troides minos) with a wingspan of about 25 cms to the smallest, the Grass Jewel (Zizula hylax) with only 1.5 to 2 cm wingspan, the Kerala butterfly fauna is rich, diverse and scientifically very interesting.

Many Wildlife Sanctuaries in Kerala (officially protected wildlife parks) are a lepidopteran delight - the famous among them being Periyar Tiger Reserve, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. That is not all - Kerala's beautiful countryside can boast of a vast and fascinating variety of butterflies - be it in the myriad plantation areas or your own backyard. For those interested in the butterfly life of Kerala, it would be possible to organise dedicated tours in the company of our experts. The tour will take you through some of the most beautiful regions of India and lasts from 2 days to 15 days. Our guides are well versed in spotting the endemics as well as the most elusive ones.

Auroville, Pondicherry

Of the 1500 species, 315 live in South india. Butterfly seen here are among the most common species of India. But they are found to be tough ones.

Eastern India :

This area is a home for more than 1200 species and is considered to be the richest butterflying area not only in India but in the entire oriental regions. This region comprises of the Eastern Himalayas.

Mahim - maharashtra of Western India = Mahim National Park

For the last two years, MNP has been developing a butterfly park on a three acre plot in its premises with funding of Rs 2 lakh from MMRDA. A lot of trees have been planted such as the peepal, kadamba, sweet neem to attract butterflies. Over the last two years the number of species has more than doubled. Initially, 34 species have been identified and now it is rated that there are 73 identified species as stated by the Deputy director of MNP. Flowering plants have been planted for nectar and egg-laying. Mud-puddling sites are also being created where butterflies can obtain nutrients like salts. It is believed that the number of butterflies will increase when this work is completed.. The park is already attracting a lot of youngsters every day who come to photograph these beautiful creatures. This park is open from Monday through Saturday between 0930 and 1800 hours and we can visit on holidays and Sundays also with prior permission. Guides are provided on request for which giving prior intimation is a must.

VISAKHAPATNAM : [Eastern Coast]

The Department of Zoology of Andhra University, which boasts some rare collections in its museum, now has a colourful attraction, in the shape of a butterfly park. Nearly 125 butterflies belonging to 20 species fluttering around displaying a mosaic of colours in a large fabricated butterfly house covered by a net . This is the first butterfly park with a museum in Andhra Pradesh. It is hoped by the authorities that this would be developed into Asia's biggest butterfly park by having at least 120 species of butterflies of the Asian region and that it wouldl come up on a 10-acre site and the number of butterflies of these species can run into some thousands. This project is being funded by the Government of India The society / department has been able to identify 60 species of butterflies in the Eastern Ghats and so far secured 20 of them for its butterfly house.

There are some rare species like Acraea Perpsitore, Tatilio Polymnstor, Grachium Dosan and Pathitia Nonmius while a species which has not been identified so far in Asia, can be seen by all at present at this butterfly house. The butterfly house has about 150 ovipositing and nectar hosting plants to help the butterflies feed and increase their numbers. Honey tags are also provided. These essential facilities, now a scarce commodity in nature thanks to great decrease in the number of plants and other factors, are made available in the butterfly house. It is reported that 100 million US dollars worth butterflies are also being smuggled out of the country from Assam and the Himalayan region. The live butterfly is dipped in wax and is used for ornamental purpose.

Butterflies have a life span of one day to 30 days. Once the park has a large number of butterflies, they will be released into the open.

Karanji Lake - Mysore

This lake is located in the city of Mysore in the state of Karnataka, India. The lake is surrounded by a nature park consisting of a butterfly park and a walk-through aviary.

This aviary is the biggest 'walk-through aviary' in India. There is also a museum, the Regional Museum of Natural History which is located on the banks of this lake. The total area of Karanji lake is 90 hectares. While water spread area is about 55 hectares, the foreshore area measures about 35 hectares. Karanji lake is owned by the Mysore Zoo Authority. Mysore Zoo gets a revenue of an average of Rs. 50000 per day from ticket sales to enthusiasts who visit this lake.

Butterfly park - The butterfly park has been created on a small island within the Karanji lake. About 45 species of butterflies have been identified here. With the help of a botanist, appropriate species of host plants and nectar plants essential for the breeding of butterflies were selected and planted within the island. These plants have also been brought from hill stations and other regions like Malnad. Steps have been taken to build a bridge in the lake to the newly created 'butterfly park'. A watch tower was also constructed to view the birds and study their behaviour. A giant fountain which can spew water up to 40 feet has been added as an attraction. A nursery of medicinal plants is also present here.

The aviary constructed on the shore of the lake has a height of 20 m, length of 60 m and width of 40 m making it India's biggest walk-through aviary. The aviary was set up at a cost of Rs 3.8 million. It includes an artificial water fall and two small water bodies. Water from the Karanji lake is pumped inside the aviary in the form of a stream while the used water is discharged into the lake. The entry fee is Rs. 10 per person.

The total area of Karanji Lake is 90 hectares. While water spread area is about 55 hectares, the foreshore area measures about 35 hectares. Karanji Lake is surrounded by a nature park consisting of a butterfly park and a walk-through aviary. This aviary is the biggest walk-through aviary in India. There was an option for boating.

Thekkady Wild life Sanctuary, Periyar National Park - Kerala - India

Popularly known as the Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary, Periyar National Park is a lush manmade forest that offers a natural habitat. Periyar National Park took birth and developed around the Periyar Lake that is also a manmade lake. The Periyar National Park in Kerala, South India is a great place for spotting exotic butterfly species that flit in and out of deep green forest shrubs.

Butterfly of Andaman Islands will follow soon.

I am posting some of the stamps and a FDC on butterfly hereunder.

Details are :  Year 1981 - Stamps on FDC and blocks are same.

35P -Stichophthalma Camadeva                             50p Cethosia Biblis
100 - Cyrestis Achates                                           200 Teinopalpus Imperialis


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  3. Great Post :D
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly's tale~
    Bright Blessings
    elf ~