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Monday, February 2

Tawny Emperor and Comic Oakblue butterflies spotted in India after 100 years


Comic Blue, Arhopala comica, Tawny Emporer, Chitoria ulupi ulupi, rare butterfly
Comic Oakblue (Arhopala comica)  and Tawny Emporer (Chitoria ulupi ulupi)
Image Credit: 
Tshetsholo Naro/North East Network/JOTT












Butterfly enthusiasts in India have enough reasons to cheer up. Recently published results of a butterfly survey in the far north east state of Nagaland reveal that two rare butterflies have been recorded from here after a long gap of 100 years. As per the results of the survey, Tawny Emperor (Chitoria ulupi ulupi) and Comic Oakblue (Arhopala comica) butterflies were spotted at the village of Chizmi in the Phek District of South Eastern Nagaland. The last known record of these two species from India dates back to 1914. 

Moreover, the new record also extends the known range of distribution of the Comic Oakblue (Arhopala comica). “The Comic Oakblue has previously only been known from a few specimens collected in Manipur, hence this record extends its range marginally to Nagaland”, says the researchers. 

The present work is significant because it reports numerous species not recorded by Tytler and Elwes during their extensive collections of butterflies in the Naga Hills. Sunjay Sondhi of the Titli Trust and Tshetsholo Naro of the North East Network jointly recorded the butterflies during the three year period.

During the survey of three years, one of the researchers, Tshetsholo Naro of the North East Network, was lucky enough to spot the enigmatic Comic Oakblue butterfly twice, in a gap of two years. Tshetsholo Naro spotted the butterfly in April 2013 from the compound of North East Network, a women’s rights organization in the northeastern region of India. Almost after a year, in April 2014, the butterfly was spotted from the NEN compound in Chizmi village again. 

Tawny Emperor also was spotted at the NEN compound in Chizmi, as per the results of the study published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa. The single record of this butterfly after a hundred years was made in June 2013 when it was spotted sitting on human clothes at the NEN compound in Chizmi.

Both Tawny Emperor and Comic Oakblue are protected under the schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. North Eastern states of India have been hitting headlines for rare butterfly records lately.

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