Rare moth species spotted near Pachamalai

Updated - March 23, 2016 05:51 am IST

Published - March 23, 2016 12:00 am IST - TIRUCHI:

A female Indian Owlet-moth and a Common banded peacock (below) spotted in the foothills of Pachamalai and Puliyancholai.

A female Indian Owlet-moth and a Common banded peacock (below) spotted in the foothills of Pachamalai and Puliyancholai.

The female Indian Owlet-moth (Spirama retorta), belonging to Erebidae family, has been spotted recently by a city-based ecologist and a student volunteer at the foothills of the Pachamalai nature reserve.

Q. Ashoka Chakkaravarthy, ecologist and assistant professor of Environmental Science, Department of Foundation Courses, St. Joseph’s College, and student K. Arunagiri recorded the presence of the moth species that is usually found in north-eastern India, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh late last month.

The moth’s wings (spanning 60-70 mm) carry a striking pattern that often looks like the face of a snake with slightly opened mouth, intended perhaps as a device to momentarily ward off predators (known as Deimatic behaviour).

Owlet moths are one of the largest families that Lepidoptera which comprises more than 35,000 known species placed in 29 sub-families and 4,200 genera.

“Most moths in India are not yet identified properly. The lifespan of this moth is 36 or 37 days,” Mr. Chakkravarthy noted in a statement.

The ecologist has tracked the Common Banded Peacock (Papilio crino) butterfly in Puliyancholai, at the base of the Kolli Hills.

“(Puliyancholai) is a haven for butterflies because of the steady flow of water throughout the year in this unique ecosystem,” said Mr. Chakkravarthy.

The area has been teeming with blue butterfly species such as zebra blue, common albatross, and common gull after the monsoons, and the ecologist has recorded more than 20 species of butterflies so far.

The Common Banded Peacock, with a wing span of 8 to 100 mm, was spotted while it was “mud-puddling” — sucking up moisture from rotting plant matter, mud, and carrion.

Besides its shiny blue or green colouring, the tips of its hind wings are distinguished by markings that look like eye spots.

This species belongs to Papilionidae family and can be seen in the southern Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.