Close encounters with winged beauties

Common Awl.

Common Awl.  

The verdant areas in and around Kulathupuzha, Kallar and Ammayambalam have once again become the centre of attraction of lepidopterists. A team of bird watchers were able to observe the breeding and life cycle of three rare butterflies.

The Maculate Lancer, Tree Flitter and the Golden Tree Flitter, which belongs to the Hesperiidae family, were sighted by the team led by C. Sushanth, coordinator of the Warblers and Waders, a city-based group of bird watchers.

These butterflies breed during the rainy season. On account of their resemblance to moths and their quick movement, these butterflies are difficult to study. No detailed study has been carried out so far, says B. V. Premkrishnen, one of the members of the study team.

Maculate Lancer.

Maculate Lancer.  

The Hesperiidae family, which is considered to be the third largest family of butterflies, has about 320 species in India These are butterflies with long, triangular wings that are coloured in shades of brown or black and marked with white spots.

The Maculate Lancer, of which the current status in Kerala is `unknown', was sighted at Arippa while the Common Awl was spotted at Akkulam. Though this is not an uncommon species, lepidopterists say that its shy nature makes its difficult to spot.

Also seen in the palm trees in the jungles at Arippa and Kulathupuzha were the Tree Flitter with its brown, broad-chequered wings. It is also considered as a rare species.

The Coon-Sancus Pulligo, characterised by its dark, shining brown wings, was spotted in the evergreen regions of Ammayambalam. This butterfly always flies close to the ground in shady places or among the jungle undergrowth.

Tree Flitter.

Tree Flitter.  

These species of butterflies, which feed on bamboo reeds, grass, palm and cane, complete their metamorphosis in these plants itself. The study team has plans to come out with a handbook on the life cycle and feeding habits of these rare butterflies.

The members of the `butterfly garden' in Loyola School also sighted a few species of the Coon-Sancus Pulligo in the Loyola school garden as well as at some places in Aakkulam.

The study team has already got the approval for the sighting of the butterfly from the noted lepidopterist, Krushnamegh Kunte, of the Bombay Natural History Society. The team is planning to carry out the documentation of rare butterflies in the State and to carry out more scientific research on the metamorphosis of these butterflies.

By Hari Sundar G

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