Aralam annual butterfly survey yields two rare butterflies
The annual butterfly survey in the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) that concluded on January 14 recorded 178 species of butterflies, including nine species that are endemic to the Western Ghats.
The 18th annual butterfly survey in the Aralam WLS was jointly organised by the Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS) and the Forest Department from January 12 to 14. As many as 142 butterfly enthusiasts from south India participated in the survey. Major locations in the WLS surveyed were Kottiyur, Meenmutty falls, Pariputhodu, Chavachi, Kurukathodu, Narikadavu, Bhoothankallu, Pookundu and Valayamchal.
The organisers said the survey had added two new species to the sanctuary — Nilgiri Grass Yellow and Silver Streak Acacia Blue. Both are extremely rare and known only from very few specimens from the Western Ghats. With these two additions, the total number of butterflies in the Aralam WLS is 257, the highest in any of the Protected Areas of the State. The family Nymphlaidae (Brush-footed butterflies) is more diverse with 67 species followed by Lycaenidae-blues (50 species), Hesperiidae-skippers (25 species), Pieridae-whites and yellows (20 species), Papilionidae-swallowtails (16 species) and a single species from the family of Riodinidae (Judies and Punches).
The species that are endemic to the Western Ghats/South India found in the survey are Southern Birdwing, Malabar Rose, Malabar Banded Swallowtail, Buddha Peacock, Lesser Albatross, Southern Blue Oakleaf, Malabar Tree Nymph Kanara/Rosy Oak Blue, Shiva Sunbeam and Madras Ace. Maximum species diversity was noted at Pariputhodu with 80 species followed by Chavachi (67), Kurickathodu (55). Many mud-puddling butterfly sites were located at the sandbanks of Chavachi, Kariankappu, Kuruckathodu, Narikkadavu, Pookundu and Valayamchal along the Cheenkanni river and Pottichappara area of Urutti river during the survey.
The survey was inaugurated by K.V. Uthaman, Managing Director, Oushadhi. Aralam WLS Wildlife Warden Sajikumar, Assistant Warden V. Madhusudhanan were present. Classes on butterfly diversity were conducted by Jafer Palot, V.C. Balakrishnan, Babu Kambrath and Balakrishnan Valappil.