3 contenders for national butterfly status

Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to choose one among them

October 09, 2020 11:24 pm | Updated 11:47 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Indian Jezebel, Krishna Peacock and Orange Oakleaf, the three butterfly species that have emerged on top in a nationwide citizen poll to identify the national butterfly.

Indian Jezebel, Krishna Peacock and Orange Oakleaf, the three butterfly species that have emerged on top in a nationwide citizen poll to identify the national butterfly.

A citizen poll to identify the national butterfly concluded with three species garnering the highest number of votes.

Krishna Peacock ( Papilio krishna ), Indian Jezebel ( Delias eucharis ), and Orange Oakleaf ( Kallima inachus ), the frontrunners, have unique features such as ability to camouflage as a dead leaf, exhibit iridescence to stave off predators, and aid farmers in getting rid of pests.

While the organisers will submit the list of the top-three to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the onus is on the Centre to choose one among them to join the ranks of the Bengal Tiger, Indian Peacock, Indian Lotus, banyan tree, and mango as yet another national symbol, says Kalesh Sadasivan, one of the core members of the organising group.

The nationwide poll organised by the National Butterfly Campaign Consortium, a collective of 50 butterfly experts and enthusiasts, from September 10 to the midnight of October 8 yielded 59,754 votes.

The highest number of votes were polled from Maharashtra (18,887). The month-long campaign also witnessed considerable support from other States, including Tamil Nadu (4,789), Chattisgarh (4,754), and West Bengal (3,676).

While the polling stood at less than 800 in Kerala on October 1, the quest for a national butterfly gained momentum later with 2,471 casting their votes from the State.

Blessed with a vibrant colour pattern, including vermilion (haldi – kumkum) , the Indian Jezebel (or Common Jezebel) is known to deter its predators with its flashy wing colours.

Regarded as soldiers of farmers, they also prey on parasites that infest fruit-bearing plants. Widely distributed, the species can be spotted in gardens and other lightly wooded areas.

Krishna Peacock, a flagship species for biodiversity and conservation , is generally found in large numbers in the Himalayas. Possessing a peculiarly large swallowtail, its iridescent green scales diffract light to coat itself in radiance.

Orange Oakleaf is commonly known as ‘dead leaf’ for its ability to camouflage as a dry autumn leaf while striking a stationary pose with its wings closed. The masquerade enables the species to prevent it from being devoured by birds in the moist forests of northern Western Ghats, central, northern and northeastern parts of India where they are generally found. Besides, the Oakleaf is also known to exhibit polyphenism as it assumes specific colour and size during dry and wet seasons.

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