Plain Tiger: The butterfly next door


The Plain Tiger butterfly is a troublesome survivor, fairly and profuse, even in city areas

Isn’t it odd that in a metropolis that’s more and more concretised, the Plain Tiger butterfly is flourishing? That’s as a result of their alternative of larval host crops (meals for caterpillars) — milkweed (aak in Hindi).

These crops include toxins — cardenolides within the case of milkweed — that make the caterpillar as nicely the butterfly unpalatable. This plant additionally aids within the survival of the Painted Grasshopper and different bugs. In reality, tribes internationally use the poison within the plant on arrow-heads to assist in looking.

The vibrant colouration of the Plain Tiger sends a warning sign to its predators — birds, lizards — that they could possibly be poisonous. This defence mechanism is called aposematism. The colouration is mimicked by different species like the feminine Danaid Eggfly butterfy that usually transfer with Plain Tiger butterflies to keep away from being eaten alive. This is one other of nature’s defence mechanisms, referred to as Batesian Mimicry. Yet one other survival mechanism is the haphazard zig-zag flight that the butterfly has, to keep away from seize.

The Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) is a medium-sized vibrant butterfly with orange on the upperside with wings edged with black and white. The segmented physique (head, thorax and stomach) is black. The underside of the wings are a lighter shade of orange.

The Plain Tiger belongs to Nymphalidae, the biggest household of butterflies with over 6,000 species. It is able to adapting to all kinds of habitats throughout the nation: arid, open areas, deciduous forests, city territory, and others.

Soon after mating, the feminine Plain Tiger butterfly lays ridged dome-shaped eggs singly on the underside of the larval host plant, to keep away from detection by predators. Depending on the climate circumstances, the egg could hatch between three and 5 days. When able to hatch, the larva contained in the egg busts open the shell and comes out earlier than devouring it. The caterpillar feeds voraciously on all elements of the plant and quickly grows too massive for its outer pores and skin. During this course of, a layer of newer pores and skin is shaped below the previous pores and skin, thereby coming into the next stage of development referred to as instar.

A Plain Tiger caterpillar develops by 5 instar phases with various sizes and the variations in bodily look not less than till the third instar.

Once the larva reaches the ultimate instar, it stops consuming and appears for a handy place to pupate. It spins a silk pad, suspends itself from it and stays immobile for a few hours earlier than shedding its pores and skin one final time, then forminga pupa. Initially the pupa of the Plain Tiger is inexperienced with a black line with golden circles on it.

A day earlier than the butterfly is able to emerge, you possibly can see the colors of the butterfly from the surface. It then splits open the pupa, slowly popping out, clinging to the branches of the plant, dries off fully, and makes its first flight.

Regardless of the stage the butterfly is in, it offers with a number of risks for survival, contemplating that it’s prey for a plethora of predators round. Their poisonous nature, as a result of their weight loss program, makes them one of many commonest butterflies in India.

September is Butterfly Month, and for the primary time in 4 years, it’s going all-India, organised by Bombay Natural History Society, in collaboration with NINOX – Owl about Nature, and the Delight Factory from Delhi, partnering with 26 organisations devoted to the trigger. Get in contact with us at [email protected] for tips on learn how to submit your entries.

The author is the founding father of NINOX – Owl About Nature, a nature-awareness initiative. He is the Delhi-NCR reviewer for Ebird, a Cornell University initiative, monitoring uncommon sightings of birds. He previously led a programme of WWF India.

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