Delicate with technicoloured wings

The Common Jezebel butterflies are known for their stunning colours

Published - December 29, 2015 04:14 pm IST - Bangalore

Beautiful garden inhabitants -- Photo: Prasanna Bhat

Beautiful garden inhabitants -- Photo: Prasanna Bhat

The Spider Lily (Hymenocallis lirisome) plants in the garden had dozens of caterpillars, making a meal of their leaves and destroying its foliage.

As kids we would pick them off and destroy them systematically, till one day we saw the beautiful Common Jezebel (Delias eucharis), emerge from a chrysalis.

After that we never touched the caterpillars and instead waited eagerly to watch stunning butterflies emerge and fill up our garden with colour. According to Wiki, the Common Jezebel is a medium-sized pied butterfly found in many areas of South and Southeast Asia, specially in the non-arid regions of India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand.

Prasanna Bhat says the butterflies are usually easier to photograph in the mornings between March and August as they come to sip nectar from flowering plants. “I have the longer telephoto lens used for birding, which I also use for shooting butterflies, as the longer focal length gives me the distance and I can shoot without disturbing the butterfly. I observed this colourful butterfly from distance and observed the pattern of its flight, which is weak and fluttering.” The butterfly can be found across the country with its brilliant coat of many colours on the underside of the wings, to warn predators to stay away. It is seen drinking water in moist places on roads and in river beds during hot weather. It feeds on the nectar of the flower of the Lantana, Mango, Mustard among others. Anand Pereira says, “These butterflies can be regularly seen in pairs, especially during the coffee blossom season, when the entire region inside coffee wears a hue of white. We love them as they are excellent pollinators.”

They also commonly seen in gardens with the female flying amongst the shrubs in search of food plants, while the males sip nectar from flowers or indulge in mud-puddling. Mud-puddling, is when butterflies seek out certain moist substances such as rotting plant matter, mud and carrion and they suck up the fluid. From the fluids they obtain nutrients such as salts and amino acids, that play various roles in their physiology.

So if you see a butterfly resting with its wings closed, showing off its brilliant colours, you’re looking straight at the Common Jezebel Butterfly.

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