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| Last Updated:: 24/02/2017

Rare butterflies point to rich bio-diversity at Ayyanarkoil Falls












Ayyanarkoil Falls, which is situated within the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Srivilliputhoor, is also a habitat for very rare butterfly species. The Rajapalayam Butterfly Club, a wing of the Wildlife Association of Rajapalayam (WAR), has identified 220 species of butterflies here, including the highly uncommon Silver Royal and Fluffy Tit, which were recently spotted again, as well as the Plain Blue Royal, Nilgiri Tit, Peacock Royal and Painted Sawtooth.





“The Silver Royal is a very rare species that we have spotted once in 2016, and again now. Orchids are the host plant for these species and only during the rainy season can we spot them in the dry deciduous forests of Srivilliputhoor,” said T.V. Pranav who, along with his friends N. Santhosh and V. Sharan, visits the forest regularly to watch and photograph butterflies.





There are 340 butterfly species in Tamil Nadu. The Fluffy Tit has been spotted by Mr. Pranav and his friends for the first time in State. The Painted Sawtooth and Nilgiri Tit are also uncommon species. “Each species has a specific host plant and the presence of 220 species indicates we have very diverse plant life in the forest. We regularly visit the forest to spot a species, its egg, caterpillar and chrysalis,” said Mr. Pranav.





S.R.K. Ramkumar, another member of the club, said its members refer their sightings to experts in the field for ascertaining the features of the species.






Constant vigil






“Butterflies flourish because of constant vigil by the Forest Department. Even in the dry season, we are able to spot at least 40 species. It is indeed a pleasure watching male butterflies indulge in mud-puddling in large numbers on the shores of water bodies. They even suck minerals and nutrients from carrion (the decaying flesh of dead animals),” said Mr. Ramkumar. Males absorb sodium via mud-puddling to increase the chances of reproductive success.






T.S. Subramania Raja, founder of the WAR, said that documenting and protecting host plants was vital for the survival of butterflies, and added, “The government should come forward to protect the plants in the Srivilliputhur sanctuary.”










Source: The Hindu