129 species of butterfly recorded in Papikonda National Park

Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA:  A total of 129 species of butterfly belonging to six families, were recorded during the four-day survey from December 12 to 15 by forest department officials and experts from Kerala at Papikonda National Park near Rajamahendravaram in East Godavari district.

Out of the total, around 45 species are said to have been seen for the first time.

Of the four divisions of the park-Nellore, Muthugudem, Jalatharangini and Buruguvada, highest diversity was found in the first two, with 100 of the 129 recorded species found there during the survey.

While Nymphalidae was found in abundance (48), Papilionide (belonging to the Swallowtails family) recorded the least number with just one being found.

“Lack of flowering plants and areas for mud-puddling might be the reason behind the low number of Swallowtail butterflies. However, the number of Common Banded Peacocks, which also belong to the Swallowtail family, is high as they mostly rely on flowering bushes of Eupatorium Makinoi that exist in vast numbers,” said an expert from Warblers and Waders, one of the surveying groups, and survey coordinator C Susanthakumar from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Adding to him, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Rajamahendravaram-Wildlife Anant Shankar said that 11 of these 45 newly seen species have perhaps been witnessed for the first time in the State. “We are verifying the information by comparing it with the earlier published records. The experts are also trying to find out whether these butterflies are being seen for the first time in India by comparing reports published by other States.”

Some of the most abundant species found during the survey included Common Four-ring, Bush Brown, Common Evening Brown, Common Grass Yellow, Rey Count, Painted Jezebel (Mothugudem), Common Banded Peacock (Buruguwada), Chocolate Pansy, Angled Castor, Common Sailer, Common Lascar, Blue Mormon and Grey Pansy. The less abundant butterflies are Common Cerulean, Blue Tiger, Glassy Tiger, Common Nawab, Common Rose, Common Albatross and Lime butterfly.

Around 50 experts, including ornithologists, were roped in for the survey. The forest department, prior to the survey, stated that their internal study had recorded 121 species.

“The increase in diversity of the butterfly species can be considered as a good health indicator for the national park,” said the DFO.

The final findings of the survey will be presented at a convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species to be held in Gandhinagar in February 2020.

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