Killer roads National

Winged wonders under threat

A dead butterfly on a road in Adilabad district. — Photo: S.Harpal Singh

A dead butterfly on a road in Adilabad district. — Photo: S.Harpal Singh   | Photo Credit: S_ HARPAL SINGH

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Lakhs of butterflies are killed in road accidents during monsoon which could have an impact on the population of the beautiful creatures in the long run.

The enchanting and pristine environment of Adilabad district of Telangana has turned a killing field for minor creatures such as butterflies, thanks to the development of an extensive road network during the preceding few decades.

Lakhs of butterflies are killed in road accidents during monsoon which could have an impact on the population of the beautiful creatures in the long run and eventually result in economic loss to humans, if experts are to be believed.

“A healthy butterfly population is essential for agriculture as butterflies are great pollination agents. Road kills of these eco-friendly and farmer-friendly cratures result in loss of cross pollination in plants which certainly impacts crop yields,” opines Muthineni Radhakrishna, Assistant Professor of Zoology, Osmania University, Hyderabad,

The 16,000 sq km of geographical area of Adilabad district is predominantly a forest-agriculture ecosystem which aids the propagation of butterfly population. The area is also known for frequent butterfly migrations which make them cross roads which form part of a 10,000-km extensive network thereby exposing them to the danger of colliding with speeding vehicles and perishing in the process.

However, not all roads within the district are busy to have an impact on the migrating butterfly swarms. Threat to the life of patterned wing fliers is posed mainly by the 2,400 km of the R&B roads and the 120 km of the NH 44 cutting across the district.

Researchers S. Santhosh and S. Basavarajappa of the Department of Zoology, Mysore University, Manasagangotri, Mysore, Karnataka, observe that most butterfly road kills take place in the afternoon. In their study ‘Road mortality of migrant butterflies at National Highway 209 in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka’ published in the September 2014 edition of the Indian Journal of Applied Research, they noticed more number of accidental deaths of adult males and females. “This phenomenon could cause genetic alteration and needs to be checked because the butterflies migrate for reproduction,” they contend, among other things.

Concurring with the Mysore University researchers, Dr. Radhakrishna suggests measures to reduce traffic on busy road during the crunch hours in order to negate the barrier effect that the traffic has on migrating butterflies. “Migration of butterflies among diversified ecosystems helps keep the latter in perfect shape,” he adds.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 10:58:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/butterflies-killed-in-road-development/article7474579.ece

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