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We love their jewel tones

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH
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Nature The Tailed Jay and Common Jay butterflies add a splash of colour in our concrete jungle

Patience is the keyTo capturing these lovelies on filmPhoto: Nitin Ravikanth Achari
Patience is the keyTo capturing these lovelies on filmPhoto: Nitin Ravikanth Achari

How many of us have seen the two most common butterflies – the Tailed Jay and the Common Jay sailing around our city gardens? Even a pocket sized garden like we have, with a common red Hibiscus shrub (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) will bring them to sip of the nectar of the flowers. Sit quietly and watch them sail around the flowers, stopping every once in a while to alight on one flower and then breeze away to the next.

“The Tailed Jay and Common Jay are the two most common butterflies and can be seen in all the gardens in Bangalore, at any time of the year. Both breed on trees such as the Ashoka (Polyalthia longifolia), the Champak tree (Michelia champaca) or the Custard apple family (annonacea), which are common in most gardens. Both are fly rapidly, and are very difficult to photograph. They can be distinguished by the colour of the caterpillar as the common jay caterpillars are coffee brown and tailed jay caterpillars are green. In the later stages the common jay has fake eyes as compared to tailed jays which have horns,” reveals Haneesh K M, a lecturer in an Engineering college, near Whitefield.

Rohith Girotra who lives close to the Meenakshi Temple on Bannerghatta Road and works with Oracle India in their Finance division says, “Butterflies are adaptable and change their colours and patterns based on the season. They have the ability to travel long distances in search of a conducive environment, and they come in a riot of colours and a multitude of intricate patterns.”

Every time he goes butterfly spotting in Lalbagh, Cubbon Park, the J.P Nagar mini forest or the Valley School grounds, Rohith says he returns comes back amazed at the fact that a creature so fragile can also lead such a complex life. Nitin Ravikanth Achari the photographer who took the accompanying picture gives three quick tips to get good ‘shots’ of butterflies. “It is always easy to photograph butterflies in the morning or if the sky is overcast, as they will be less active. It is also advisable for you to use a fast shutter speed and always position your camera parallel to the wings of the butterfly. But, patience is the key, always wait for the butterflies to come to you, never chase butterflies and of course approach them slowly,” he says.

So stop for a minute or two and enjoy these beautiful, winged insects, who seemingly fly around without a care in the world. It is also good to keep in mind, that the diversity and population of butterflies in a place, can reveal the health of the ecosystem of the area. But obviously, habitat loss due to urbanization is the major threat to the butterfly diversity today. So enjoy them while you still can, in our pockets of green in the city.

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH

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