Can you recollect how many species of butterflies you have seen? Two? Three probably 10? Can you believe there are 175 species of butterflies in Bangalore. The common butterflies that can be sighted are Common Emigrant, Common Grass Yellow, Common Crow, Common leopard, Pioneer and Lemon Pansy. Thanks to Bengaluru’s temperate climate we have diverse plants, which in turn supports butterfly diversity too.
Ashok Sengupta, Haneesh KM, Nitin Ravikanthachari and Rohit Girotra formed the Bangalore Butterfly Club in 2012 to share information on butterflies. We were in touch over email and social media and would regularly trade information. However, we were working as individuals. Things took a turn when Krushnamegh Kunte of National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) moved to Bengaluru from Boston. He mooted the idea of citizen science in the butterfly domain and the important role it could play in a better understanding of butterflies in India.
With all this activity, a need for a cohesive platform to talk about and share information on butterflies of Karnataka was felt. The social media explosion came as a blessing. Ashok started the BBC Facebook group and Nitin started the BBC WhatsApp group.
This group has been responsible in rediscovering many species of butterflies in Bangalore. In 2012, the Lilac Silverline, which was thought to be extinct, was rediscovered, after a gap of nearly 120 years, near Hessarghatta lake in Bengaluru. Nitin Ravikanthachari made the discovery. In the six years since this club was formed, 23 new species have been added to the The Bangalore Butterfly list compiled by Karthikeyan Srinivasan. The club wishes to educate and inform citizens of the importance of these beautiful insects. From a team of four, BBC today boasts of more than 400 members.
Along with creating awareness about the butterflies of Karnataka via social media platforms, BBC also conducts field walks to educate members and newcomers about butterflies, collect information, and collaborate with the forest department in conducting surveys, workshops, and other conservation related activities.
The club organises fortnightly walks and counts at Doresanipalya Research Station Campus, Bangalore University, Hennur Forest, and Hessarghatta Lake. The other butterfly hotspots include Camp Gee Dee (in Shivanahalli), Valley School grounds (on Kanakapura road), and Savandurga.
On a three-hour walk in any of the hotspots, one can easily see around 40 to 50 species of butterflies. This number varies depending on the seasons. Post-monsoon is usually a great time to see more number of species. A typical butterfly walk starts at 9 am and is attended on an average by 10-15 people. We encourage people to join these walks to interact with the experts and see the butterflies in nature. The walks are free of charge and all you need to bring along is your enthusiasm.
Most of the members contribute photographs to the Butterflies of India initiative. This initiative is the brainchild of Kunte and is a collaborative effort by butterfly enthusiasts from all over India, to create a nation-wide, peer-reviewed database.
What we need is active participation from Bangaloreans. With more people willing to take up responsibilities, we can expand our scope. Interested folks can get in touch with BBC by dropping a mail to email@example.com to participate in fortnightly walks and the associated activities.