|Blue Nawab (Polyura schreiber wardii)|
(Photo Courtesy: Aditya Joshi/Wiki Media Commons under CC BY-SA 2.0)
The latest butterfly survey at Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, a small protected area situated in the Southern Western Ghats, added two more new winged beauties to its rich insect diversity. The three day survey carried out from January 10 to 12 recorded Blue Nawab and Cronelian butterflies from different parts of the sanctuary for the first time. With the new additions, the total butterfly species found in Aralam WLS increased to 242, according to researchers who participated in the survey.
Though Blue Nawab was recorded from different parts of the state since 2003, this is for the first time that we record the caterpillars of the butterfly from inside Aralam Wildlife sanctuary, said Jafer Palot, Secretary, Malabar Natural History Society which routinely organizes the butterfly survey camp at Aralam each year to monitor and study the altitude migration of Common Albatross and related species of butterflies in the sanctuary.
According to researchers who participated in the survey, migration was abundant this year. During peak hours of migration, the monitoring teams were able to record as much as 1500 butterflying passing a specific spot on the banks of Cheenkani River in one minute period. It has been observed during the earlier butterfly surveys in the sanctuary that hundreds of thousands of butterflies belonging to specific species migrate from upper reaches of Western Ghats to lower reaches though certain fixed routes during this season. However, their point of origin is still unknown just as the destination of their enigmatic journey.
|The Cornelian (Deudorix epijarbas) |
(Photo Courtesy: Ajit U / Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 2.0)
According to Balakrishnan, who is an expert in identifying and documenting plants in Western Ghats, the caterpillars of Cornelian butterfly were on Sapindus plant and on Connarus plant. Caterpillars of Blue Nawab were found on a plant which is called as Vallimandaram (Bauhinia phoenicea) in Malayalam.
The butterfly survey camp also reported high mud-puddling on the banks of the rivers Cheekannipuzha and Urutipuzha in the sanctuary. During mud-puddling, butterflies flock to the wet forest floor or on the river banks to suck in nutrients and rare minerals from soil. According to V Madhusoodhanan, Assistant Wildlife Warden of Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, the three day camp with around 90 participants recorded more than 150 species of butterflies from different parts of the sanctuary this year.
Now, watch the huge butterfly roost observed in Aralam during the migration season of 2013.