Conserving and developing a habitat for the winged beauties in Bengaluru

A paradise under construction for butterflies

Butterflies are an indication of a healthy environment. They are pollinators of native species of ground flora and help enrich the soil, diversify and balance the ecosystem. Not only do they play an important role in balancing the environment but have made their existence significant, from literature to poetry to musical lyrics. They are considered to be of great aesthetic value by many.

 The main threat to butterflies in Bengaluru is the drastically changing environment in the City. Pollution and destruction of their natural habitat due to the encroachment of land for urbanisation has caused a threat to these immensely beautiful creatures.

Plain Hedge Blue (Celastrina lavendularis). Photo by Nitin R

Amidst all the chaos, these lovely creatures have found a paradise in the enormous bio-park of Bangalore University's Jnana Bharathi campus. In general, the campus is home to 126 species of butterflies. With the existing diversity of butterfly species, the University has started a Bio-diversity Butterfly Park aiming to conserve as well as improve the habitat, providing a home to more species.

Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe). Photo by Nitin R

The common species found are Mottled Emigrant (Catopsilia pyranthe), Lemon Pansy (Junonia lemonias), Lemon Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona), Double-Branded Black Crow (Euploea sylvester), Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus), Blue Tiger (Tirumala limniace), Dark Blue Tiger (Tirumala septentrionis), Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe), Common Crow (Euploea core) and Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore).

Lemon Pansy (Junonia lemonias). Photo by Nitin R

It also is home to some rare species such as Angled Pierrot (Caleta decidia), Sahyadri Birdwing (Troides minos, the State butterfly of Karnataka), Black Rajah (Charaxes solon), Plain Hedge Blue (Celastrina lavendularis), Tufted White Royal (Pratapa deva), Plains Blue Royal (Tajuria jehana), Banded Blue Pierrot (Discolampa ethion), Common Lascar (Pantoporia hordonia) and Asian Marbled Skipper (Gomalia elma).

Plains Blue Royal (Tajuria jehana). Photo by Nitin R

Dr T J Renuka Prasad, co-ordinator of the Park says thousands of butterflies are spotted swarming together in two different areas which led to the idea of developing a park especially for them.

 Plants such as Chaff-flower (Achyranthes aspera), Thumbai (Leucas aspera), Apple of Sodom (Calotropis procera) and many other native plants present in the campus tend to attract more butterflies and serve as food for the caterpillars. 

Monkey Puzzle (Rathinda amor). Photo by Nitin R

In addition to the existing plants, citrus and other profuse nectar-producing plants have been planted which help enhance the beauty of the landscape as well as provide a habitat for the butterflies. 

The main objective behind developing this area is to create an open park rather than building cages and restricting their habitat. He mentions that it also provides a field laboratory for students and researchers. In addition, visitors may also take a tour to enjoy the view.

Brown King Crow (Euploea klugii). Photo by Nitin R

Nitin R, previously a project assistant NCBS, mentions that the construction of ponds and plantation of other ornamental, exotic, non-native plants in the area in place of the host plants such as Solanum have displaced many species of butterflies. Among them, some species like the Spotted Small Flat (Sarangesa purendra) and Sahyadri Birdwing (the largest butterfly in India) are rare in the city.

Dr Prasad assures that measures will be taken in order to restore the displaced species and a better environment shall be created for them. 

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A paradise under construction for butterflies

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