Dusted Apollo, a rare high altitude butterfly, sighted for first time in Himachal’s Chamba

Dusted Apollo (Parnassius stenosemus), is an extremely rare high-altitude butterfly and has never been photographed before in Himachal Pradesh

February 03, 2024 06:21 pm | Updated 11:40 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

Photograph of Dusted Apollo (Parnassius stenosemus), a rare high-altitude butterfly in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba district. Photo: Special Arrangement

Photograph of Dusted Apollo (Parnassius stenosemus), a rare high-altitude butterfly in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba district. Photo: Special Arrangement | Photo Credit:

Dusted Apollo (Parnassius stenosemus), a rare high-altitude butterfly has been sighted and photographed for the first time in Himachal Pradesh, indicating the flourishing diversity of Apollo butterflies in the region, bringing cheers to butterfly enthusiasts.

The butterfly was sighted and photographed in September 2023, during a trek to Manimahesh Lake in Chamba by Gajinder Verma and Abinash Thakur, both forest guards of Chamba Forest Circle, Himachal Pradesh Forest Department. The species was discovered in the year 1890.

The distribution range of Dusted Apollo extends from Ladakh to West Nepal and it flies between 3,500 to 4,800 meters in the inner Himalayas.

Dusted Apollo is extremely rare and has never been photographed before in Himachal Pradesh. Lovish Garlani, a butterfly expert and researcher associated as a technical consultant with the State Forest Department, told The Hindu, “The Dusted Apollo species closely resembles Ladakh Banded Apollo (Parnnasius stoliczkanus) but the discal band on the upper fore wing in dusted apollo is complete and extends from costa to vein one while this discal band is incomplete and extends only up to vein four in Ladakh Banded Apollo. Moreover, the Dark marginal band on the hind wings is much narrower in Dusted Apollo while it is broad in Ladakh Banded Apollo. After it was photographed in Chamba, its identification was confirmed a month ago after thorough scientific examinations.”

Another rare species Regal Apollo (Parnnasius charltonius) was also photographed at Manimahesh, which is protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, he said. “It is an encouraging indication of the flourishing diversity of Apollo butterflies in the region. Apollos are considered commercially important butterflies and they fetch high prices in the poaching industry. There are 11 Apollo species recorded from Himachal Pradesh and five of them are declared as Scheduled species. Most of the Apollo butterflies are now endangered and need immediate attention for their conservation and protection,” Mr. Garlani said.

Concerned over the declining trend of the number of butterflies in the State as elsewhere, Mr. Garlani said that an immediate need to protect these rare butterfly species is required. “Community awareness about poaching and the importance of these species may play an important role in their conservation. Also, establishing butterfly parks and conservation reserves in the State should be on the priority list of the government,” he said.

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