Technology

On the wings of a vision: All you need to know about the Butterfly Vision app

Red Pierrot

Red Pierrot   | Photo Credit: Theivaprakasham Hari

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The next time a butterfly flits past you, click on this special app and find out what it is called

“It’s a mini-encyclopedia on butterflies,” declares Theivaprakasham Hari. He is talking of Butterfly Vision, his newly-launched web app that helps you identify over 300 butterflies of the Western Ghats. “You can upload any image of a butterfly and get an immediate reply on the common name and the scientific name,” says Hari.

As a member of The Nature and Butterfly Society (TNBS) that works towards butterfly conservation, Hari has been butterfly- spotting for over nine years. “The present identification method is based on their morphology. For example, the wing-venation, colour, shape and wing patterns. Once you spot a butterfly, you have to note down these features and compare it with images in the books on butterflies before going online. This is time consuming and often frustrating, especially for beginners,” he says, adding, “One also needs to know the name of the species before referring it to an expert to confirm its rarity. Some of my friends who have done studies on butterflies spend several months on just identifying the name which means they cut down the time spent on the field. A tool like this will help them build a qualitative and quantitative data.”

Theivaprakasham Hari

Theivaprakasham Hari   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The app and the butterfly
  • Using the app is simple. I took a picture of a black and red butterfly outside my home and uploaded the image on the app. In an instant, I learnt that it was a Crimson Rose
  • To know more, visit https://butterflyvision.in/
  • It is a free download and Hari says it is a work in progress. As the butterfly spottings increase, they will be added to the data

Hari collated the butterfly images and his engineering skills to develop the web application. “The images have been uploaded after several rounds of verification to ensure that they are accurate. Species like the Common Crow, King Crow and Double-branded Crow look similar. So do the One Spot Grass Yellow, Common Grass Yellow and Three Spot Grass Yellow. For someone starting out, they simply look like yellow butterflies!The app helps them identify them correctly.”

Even in urban areas, one can see butterflies. “Small butterflies like Gram Blue and Pea Blue flutter around right in our neighbourhood. You just have to click a photograph and use the app to identify them.”

White Four Ring

White Four Ring   | Photo Credit: Theivaprakasham Hari

So far, 5000 people have downloaded the Butterfly Vision app. Hari plans to develop a similar one for dragonflies, damselflies, spiders, bugs and birds. “I have added images of some of the rare butterflies like the Nilgiris Grass Yellow which we spotted recently at Tirunelveli. I plan to add a description for every butterfly along with the images shortly.”

From a conservation point of view, butterfly species identification has been a challenge, says Hari. “It is important to monitor wildlife population and diversity analysis. The app will help not just the common man but also environmentalists, scientists, conservationists and those in the academic field. It builds awareness and creates interest in butterfly documentation and conservation.”

Next time, when you spot a pale blue butterfly. Just log on to butterfly vision to find out if it is Deep Grass Blue, Pale Grass Blue or a Lesser Grass Blue that flew past you.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 9:32:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/the-butterfly-vision-app-allows-you-to-identify-over-300-varieties-from-the-western-ghats/article30049267.ece

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