We all have seen butterflies around us and at various points perhaps have been awestruck by their beauty. Did you know that in addition to being pleasing to the eyes and soul, butterflies are critical for a healthy natural environment?
Butterflies maintain the ecosystem :
act as a pollinator
biological pest control
induc genetic variation in plants
reduce the level of carbon dioxide in air
and enhance environmental beauty as well
A diversity of butterflies means that there is diversity in the ecosystem as they are very choosy and specific about their feeding and egg laying plants! The biologically diverse India harbours about 1500 species of butterflies which constitute 65% of total Indian fauna. Of these 18% are found in Maharashtra and many of these are found at this lovely farm. The largest among these is the Common Blue Mormon which is the state butterfly of Maharashtra and is the second largest butterfly found in India.
Although they can be seen throughout the year, they occur more commonly in the monsoon or after it.
Some of the commonly found butterflies in Maharashtra are the Danaid Eggfly, Lemon Pansy, Pea Blue and Blue Tiger. These can be seen here at JE Farm!
Males are blackish with distinctive white spots that are fringed in blue while females mimic (in appearance) the similar-sized Plain Tiger, a toxic butterfly.
Males are more easy to spot than females because they have a greater responsibility towards the survival of their species, while the male’s role is restricted to mating.
Males tend to fly higher and faster than the females, who prefer being close to the ground. When disturbed, the males quickly gain height to reach a tree branch, whereas females tend to move to nearby bushes.
It is the most common of the six Pansies in India. It is a very bold butterfly with strong territorial and aggressive behaviour but not as much as the Peacock Pansy (which can also be seen at the farm!). It flies quickly and strongly but with less fluttering of wings.
It is brown with numerous eyespots as well as black and lemon-yellow spots and lines on the upperside of the wings. The underside is a dull brown, with a number of wavy lines and spots in varying shades of brown and black. There is also an eyespot on the lower side of the forewing. The wet- and dry-season forms differ considerably in coloration and even shape. In the wet-season form the markings are distinct and vivid and the wing shape is a little more rounded. In the dry-season form the markings are obscure and pale especially on the underside and the wing margin is more angular and jagged. This helps it camouflage in the dried leaf litter.
The males have a mainly blue violet upper face of the wings with the brown edges, while the females have only a small amount of blue colour in the centre of the wings. Both have a thin, long tail in the hindwings and two black spots in the anal angle. The underface of the wings is ocher and adorned with white markings and with a larger white submarginal streak. The underface of each hindwing shows a pair of small black eye-spots beside each tail, with an orange marginal spots at the anal angle.
The Blue tiger is a delight to the eye. The head, antennae and thorax is brownish black in colour, with white dots on the head and neck. The Blue Tiger Butterflies have brownish black upperparts, with bluish white semi hyaline spots and streaks.
The butterflies of this group are the longest lived of all species. They feed mostly on toxic plants, fly slowly and spend long periods resting in sheltered areas during winter.
This species migrates extensively during the monsoons in southern India. The migratory populations have been observed to consist nearly entirely of males.
For those of you interested in a complete list of butterfly species that have been spotted on the farm, scroll further. This list is courtesy of Dr Krishnmegh Kunte, 1996 .
Common Indian Crow
Common Bush Brown
Common Tree Brown
Common Evening Brown
Pale Grass Blue
Dark Grass Blue
Tiny Grass blue
Lesser Grass Blue
Plains Blue Royal
Indian Red Flash
Small Grass Yellow
Spotless Grass Yellow
Common Banded Awl