Hyderabad, December 12 Butterflies – unlike their delicate name and fragile appearance – are a hardy species. And their presence tells us a lot about the surrounding ecosystem, says Dr Mantha Ramamurthy. He should know, because he’s been on their trail since 2005 in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.
Credited for creating Andhra Pradesh’s only biodiversity park, a mini jungle, home to various species of plants and butterflies amid the concrete cityscape of Visakhapatnam, Ramamurthy and his group of ecological warriors – students and volunteers – are active in raising awareness and studying the environment – reading butterflies.
The latest study by Ramamurthy and a team of researchers identified 12 species of non-native or new butterflies in the coastal district located in the northern part of the Eastern Ghats. The study, conducted between 2016 and 2018 by members of the Dolphin Nature Conservation Society, is called âButterflys of Visakhapatnam Districtâ and was published in the scientific journal Zoo’s Print. Mantha Ramamurthy led the research conducted by STPL Ushasri and Pavani Sagiraju.
Recently discovered butterfly species in the Visakhapatnam district include Colotis amata, Delias hyparete, Eurema brigitta, E. laeta, Freyeria trochylus, Ixias pyrene, Lethe europa, Troides helena, Vanessa cardui, Virachola isocrates, Ypthima baldus, and Y. ceyonica.
In the real world, these butterflies have common names such as Common Bird Wing, Little Arabian Salmon, Painted Jezebel, Yellow Little Grass, Yellow Crisp Grass, Yellow Orange Tip, Brown Bamboo, the painted lady, the five common rings, the four white rings, a jewel of grass spotted with orange and common guava blue.
According to the study, a total of 105 species of butterflies, belonging to six families, have been recorded in the district. Almost seven species, out of the 12 species registered as new in Visakhapatnam District, are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The east coast, where the Visakhapatnam district is located, is made up of several dense and wooded areas that are home to several varieties of flora and fauna.
The study, carried out in 11 zones of the district, included six zones located in the forests of the Eastern Ghats, and five zones in urban environment.
Interestingly, while many new butterfly species have been discovered in woodlands like Araku, Ananthagiri, Chintapalli, Paderu, and Sileru, many of these butterfly species have also made their home in the city’s urban landscape.
However, Ramamurthy warns that it would be premature to conclude that the identified butterflies are non-native or new to the district. He believes that the ecology of the Eastern Ghats has never really been the subject of extensive research until now. Since research initiatives in the region are largely carried out in isolation and there has never been a coordinated push for research in this part of the Eastern Ghats, he believes it is possible that some of these butterfly species were in fact the original inhabitants of the region.
âWhether some of these species migrated from the Western Ghats or are variants of the original inhabitants, it needs to be investigated. Concerted research efforts are also needed for the flora and fauna of the Eastern Ghats. It is still waiting to be fully discovered. Ramamurthy is stressed.
Compared to their more famous counterparts along the west coast of India, the Eastern Ghats are quite low-key. Considered an area of ââglobal biodiversity, the Western Ghats are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna that have been extensively studied and thoroughly documented. However, the same cannot be said of the Eastern Ghats which are relatively less explored. Its geographic features are not as extensive as the Western Ghats and have also suffered greater degradation due to mining.
âForests face the ax, and bauxite mining has destroyed much of the forest’s wealth and species. Tribals should learn environmentally safe livelihoods, so that they can protect forests. to that, more volunteers should come forward, âRamamurthy said on the phone from California, US, where he is visiting his son.
A previous study in 2013 had listed 23 butterfly species as non-native to the district. Ramamurthy thinks the Eastern Ghats have a lot more to disclose.
Disclaimer: This article was posted automatically from an agency feed without any text changes and has not been reviewed by an editor
Open in app