Two more species added to India’s list of butterflies

Striped Hairstreak (Yamamotozephyrus kwangtugenesis).   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Lepidopterists in Arunachal Pradesh have helped add two species to India’s expanding list of butterflies.

One of them, the Striped Hairstreak, was first recorded by Japanese entomologists in Hainan province of China. The other, Elusive Prince, has a Vietnamese connection and was thought to be the more familiar Black Prince found in the Eastern Himalayas.

“Our team has added the two butterfly species, which has been published in the April-June edition of the Bionotes journal. India now has 1,327 species, up from 1,318 in 2015,” said Minom Pertin, deputy director of the Society for Education and Environmental Development (SEED) from Miao in Changlang district.

Mr. Pertin was one of four citizen scientists who provided specimens and photographic inputs for Peter Smetacek of the Butterfly Research Centre in Uttarakhand’s Bhimtal to confirm the two species. The others are Roshan Upadhyay based in Vijaynagar of Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district, Sonam Dorji of Bhutan and Antonio Giudici, a butterfly guide based in Thailand.

The Striped Hairstreak (Yamamotozephyrus kwangtugenesis) was located in Vijaynagar bordering Myanmar while the Elusive Prince was found in Miao on the periphery of the Namdapha National Park.

“We were initially of the opinion that the Elusive Prince was a variant of the Black Prince, but the dissection of our specimen revealed it was different and not recorded in India before,” Mr. Pertin said.

“The Rohana genus had been represented in India by two species — the Black Prince (Rohana parisatis) and the Brown Prince (Rohana parvata). In the former, the male is black and the female is brown while in the latter, both male and female are brown. We have only had a male specimen of the Elusive Prince, so named because it is very difficult to find,” Mr. Smetacek told The Hindu.

The scientific name of the Elusive Prince is Rohana tonkiniana, named after Tonkin in north Vietnam, where it was first recorded. It was believed to exist in Bhutan, but studies of the specimen found there have not been conclusive.

The discovery of the Striped Hairstreak, whose genus was broken into several genera by Japanese researchers, was more intriguing for the lepidopterists.

“The place where it was found borders northern Myanmar, where three males were recorded earlier. But there’s a huge gap between this area and Hainan island in south-eastern China,” Mr. Smetacek said.

Rich biodiversity

According to Mr. Pertin, the findings from Arunachal Pradesh indicate the rich biodiversity of the State.

“The government thus needs to focus on helping volunteers or citizen scientists by providing the support needed. This will help in boosting eco-tourism apart from regular scientific researches,” he said.

The recording of the two butterflies follows the “rediscovery” of the Assam Keelback, a non-venomous snake from the Gelling area of Arunachal Pradesh after 129 years.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 3:00:01 AM |

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