Hold still, winged beauties. India is counting.

Hold still, winged beauties. India is counting.

Blue Oakleaf. Credit: DH Photo/Sammilan Shetty

September is butterfly month, and enthusiasts across the country are engaged in a variety of activities like counting and photography. 

Not only are these winged beauties a sight to behold but are indicators of a healthy ecosystem. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem as they help in pollination, and are also a food source for other organisms such as spiders, wasps, dragonflies, birds and lizards. 

Nearly 1,400 species of butterflies are found in India, and many of them are endemic to ecological hotspots like the Western Ghats and the Northeast. Some of these species such as the Blue Nawab and Crimson Rose are also protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.  

In an effort to document butterflies, 30 biodiversity and conservation groups like Bombay Natural History Society-India, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Indian Foundation for Butterflies have come together to host an event — ‘Big Butterfly Month: India 2020’. This will see the participation of butterfly experts, enthusiasts and organisations from across the country. Online workshops and contests relating to butterflies are held as part of the event. Butterfly origami and webinars on butterflies for school and college students are also conducted on a virtual platform till September 20. 

“New information and large datasets are powerful, not only in advancing our scientific understanding of the biology of butterflies, but also in planning conservation efforts so that we can perpetuate India’s legacy of having an unparalleled biodiversity. Outreach initiatives such as the Big Butterfly Month will produce a citizenry well-educated in the matters of nature and the environment.  This, we hope, will help in protecting and creating butterfly habitats,” says Prof Krushnamegh Kunte of National Centre for Biological Sciences and the chief editor of Butterflies of India website.

If you are a butterfly enthusiast, participate in ‘Big Butterfly Count’ to be held from September 14 -20. You can log in your submissions to citizen science digital platforms: Butterflies of India, iNaturalist, and India Biodiversity Portal. For more details, log on to www.facebook.com/ButterflyMonthIndia.