Common Evening Brown butterfly photographed in over 60 variations

Dry form of Common Evening Brown   | Photo Credit: Darshan M Trivedi

This butterfly is a talented camouflage artist. Called the Common Evening Brown, it flits about during the dayand at dusk. When it rests on a background of dry leaves, with its wings closed, it looks exactly like a dried leaf. It takes on a yellow hue while fluttering amidst fading green leaves and sometimes it is the colour of dark chocolate, hazy brown, rustic brown, or has just a dash of white dots on the wings.

Darshan with his award citation

Darshan with his award citation   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Butterfly enthusiast Darshan M Trivedi has captured 67 such colour variations of this single species, a feat that has earned him an entry into the Indian Book of Records. This butterfly is also unique as it exhibits two forms, a wet-season (summer) form, seen from December to March, where it has multiple eye-spots on the wings, possibly for protection from predators. In the dry-season (winter) form, it looks much larger and displays several variations in colour and markings. “The recognition is for shooting the maximum number of photographs of the butterfly in dry season form (DSF),” says Darshan.

Wet form of Common Evening Brown

Wet form of Common Evening Brown   | Photo Credit: Darshan M Trivedi

When Darshan moved to Coimbatore from Gujarat on a work transfer, the city’s green spaces inspired him to take up Nature photography over the weekends. “I purchased a DSLR and started clicking flora and fauna, birds, butterflies, and dragonflies. I explored macro photography with bugs, beetles, spiders, and insects. Once you are hooked, you want to explore more,” he points out. That is how he became a regular at Nature walks conducted by birding societies besides actively taking part in bird and butterfly census of the Forest Department.

Common Evening Brown in dry form

Common Evening Brown in dry form   | Photo Credit: Darshan M Trivedi

In the process, he tracked the Common Evening Brown butterfly for over four years and ended up with a massive collection of photographs. “While the wet season form is common, the pigmentation of the dry season form depends on several factors like humidity and environment. The morphology of the wings are different. The colour also changes based on where it lays eggs. For example, a building construction site lends the wings a rusted metal colour. It is like magic,” he explains.

At Kallar, located at the foothills of the Nilgiris, he photographed the butterfly in extreme camouflage. “It’s a muddy area and there was a pile up of yellow logs. Here, the butterfly showcases a mix of yellow and brown. In some areas where greenery has dried up, the butterfly has the colour of dead plants.” He says one has to look for green bushes to spot this butterfly as the common grass is its host plant. “You can find me roaming parks and the botanical garden at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University campus with my camera looking for butterflies every Sunday, from dawn to noon. In some forms, the variation is in the form of dots or lines on the wings.”

Bluish tinge in the dry form of Common Evening Brown

Bluish tinge in the dry form of Common Evening Brown   | Photo Credit: Darshan M Trivedi

Darshan has also caught the butterfly in a bluish shade at the botanical garden as it feasted on nectar. “What is exciting is the possibility of many variations. Sometimes, it carries white lines on the body, may be it laid eggs near white walls. A deeper study is required to understand it better.”

The award is a great motivator, says Darshan, who has been following Nature for over seven years. “I have photographed over 100 species of butterflies. Once I hit 200, I will look for an entry in the Asia Book or Guinness Book of Records.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 1:47:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/darshan-m-trivedi-enters-the-india-book-of-records-for-photographing-common-evening-brown-butterfly/article32316761.ece

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