Butterfly migration in the Western Ghats


A surge of 1,000,000 butterflies occurs yearly in the Western Ghats, as they migrate simply earlier than the onset of the Southwest Monsoon. “They move towards the plains and the Eastern Ghats to escape the rains. Sometimes, it is mere dispersal to cope with food scarcity, when there is a shortage of host plants. There is mass exodus to look for greener pastures,” explains Isaac Kehimkar, who spent a significant a part of his life learning these fragile creatures throughout his tenure at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Isaac can also be the creator of The Book of Indian Butterflies and a sequel, Butterflies of India, each printed by BNHS.

“The annual butterfly migration happens across the Indian Peninsula,” says Kalesh Sadasivan, founding father of Travancore Nature History Society. He provides that, between July and September, when the rains recede in the Western Ghats, they transfer again.

When the butterflies return, they achieve this with a brand new era. “Butterflies have a short life span of four weeks,” says Isaac. Also known as the ‘Butterfly Man of India,’ Issac has noticed mass actions of butterflies at the Bombay Natural History Society campus in Mumbai, the Corbett National Park, Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Thane and components of Maharashtra.

During the pre-monsoon,milkweed butterflies like the darkish blue tiger, blue tiger, frequent crow and double-branded crow transfer swiftly in the direction of the plains in a vivid streak of yellows, blues, and browns.

This time, a great variety of frequent emigrants have been noticed, “forming strips of yellow on the ground as they engage in mud puddling (extracting minerals and water from the wet soil, which they transfer to females during mating). One can spot them along the Western Ghats,” says A Paavendhan, founding father of Tamil Nadu Butterfly Society. His staff has been monitoring the migratory sample for eight years. He recollects recognizing 1000’s of lime butterflies in Kallar, close to Ooty, an expertise he describes as “unforgettable”.

Common Albatross at Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sancuary in Rajapalayam

Common Albatross at Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sancuary in Rajapalayam  
| Photo Credit:
Sharan Venkatesh

While tiger butterflies transfer like a river, others, like the frequent albatross, comply with a single line. “The common albatross is a high altitude migrator from Coorg. As it has white wings, it is like an endless white string stretching into the forest,”says Kalesh.

Arun Kumar Raju Urs of Bengaluru Butterfly Club says he stood speechless when he noticed the congregation of tiger butterflies for the first time, eight years in the past in Mysuru. “There were millions hanging on the leaves, like a chunky necklace. Mysuru is a transit point during forward and reverse migration. They follow a pattern, depending on the weather conditions.”

More on butterflies

  • Striped Tiger carefully resembles the monarch butterfly in look. It additionally has orange wings laced with black strains and white dots
  • In India, there are 1300 butterfly species, of this there’s 330 plus in the Western Ghats and over 900 in the Northeast
  • The Regal Red Apollo butterflies fly above 10,000 toes in the drier chilly desert areas of Ladakh
  • The milkweed butterflies get the identify as the caterpillars feed on the latex-based sap produced by milkweed crops that comprise poisonous compounds. The toxins defend the caterpillars and grownup butterflies from birds and different predators. That is why they’ve excessive survival price
  • The milkweed can also be the host plant of the monarch butterflies

Butterfly migration is certainly one of the least studied pure phenomena in the nation, says Kalesh. “Ask any school-going children about butterflies in your backyard, and you draw a blank. But, they are aware of the monarch butterfly migration that happens in the US as it is documented. We needed a platform.”

Right now, that platform is ‘Butterfly Migration India’, a WhatsApp group of 300 members from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, who monitor the motion at varied factors from the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats. “We are gathering data, for over three years now, to get a clear picture,” says Kalesh.

Striped Tiger

A scientific tagging technique may assist, provides Sammilan Shetty, founding father of the mannequin butterfly park at Belavai village in Mangaluru. The park is dwelling to 150 species and works in the direction of training and conservation. “Did you know that butterflies help study floral diversity?” says Samillan, including, “Every butterfly species has a specific host plant. For example, if there is a profusion of the beautiful Malabar banded peacock butterflies, it indicates there is a flourishing number of Zanthoxylum trees.”

In international locations like Taiwan, says Isaac, “They gently make a colour-coded mark on the wing and release the butterfly. In the US, a lightweight paper label is attached on the hindwing. But it is tough to do the same here. We have to label thousands and the recovery rate is low.”

Crimson Rose

Issac says butterflies are additionally monitored to check local weather in many international locations. “They are extremely sensitive to weather, and when it is too cold or hot, they just quit the place.”

There is a very pleasing visible as the pink rose and crimson rose butterflies flit from Kanyakumari to Sri Lanka. “A pink line dots the coast as they start their non-stop flight during December. It is an arduous journey,” says Isaac. “Many of them are on a one-way ticket. We have no idea about their return flight.”

Test your butterfly data with a quiz designed by Sammilan Shetty on the MetroPlus Instagram web page @thehindumetroplus. The quiz shall be open from Saturday eight pm, and solutions shall be revealed Live by Sammilan on Sunday midday, when he will even focus on the position of butterflies in the ecosystem.

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