VIJAYAWADA: Sightings of three new species at Mulapadu butterfly park in Kondapalli Reserve Forest (KRF) have brought success to the efforts by the forest department, NGOs and other stakeholders.
Small Branded Swift, Painted Lady and Telicota were the species recently found by enthusiasts and officials who regularly visit and study these insects at the park. With the additions, the number of butterfly species at the KRF has increased to 72. “As on August 15, three species of butterflies were sighted at the park. Painted Lady is in the limelight as its migrating pattern is being studied across the globe. Though its presence is observed across India, it is for the first time that the species was sighted in Vijayawada,” said Rajesh Varma Dasi, a banker by chance and butterfly enthusiast by choice.
Despite butterfly presence in the KRF area has been observed over centuries, the increase in migration was possible only due to the measures taken by the authorities. The forest department, with the help of other stakeholders, planted close to 7,000 nectar and host plants, of 20 varieties, since December, 2018 when the park was developed. Lantana, Pentas Lanceolata, Ixora Coccinea, Calliandra Haematocephala, Alstonia Scholaris of the nectar plant category and Murraya Koenigii, Ruminus Communis, Atlantia Monophylla, which are host plants, were planted.
“The plants were bought from the Kadiyam Nursery in Rajamahendravaram and planted in advance before the peak period of butterfly migration,” said Divisional Forest Officer Ramachandra Rao. Apart from planting nectar plants, on which the adult insects feed, and host plants, on which the eggs are laid, mud-puddling was also done so that a few species could breed.
“The puddling was done at places that have minimum human contact as some butterfly species are very particular about their privacy,” added Ramachandra Rao. Spot Swordtail, Common Gull, Common Albatross and Zebra Blue are some of the species in the park that depend on this method to breed.
Schoolkids were also roped in for plantation drives. “The department conducts Vanam Manam programme every Saturday, which helps the stakeholders reach out to schoolchildren. Awareness programmes are then held on the importance of plantation and butterflies,” said Rajesh, also the member of Vijayawada Adventure Club. Private vehicles were also prohibited from entering the park limits as winter was the peak season for migration and more species were expected to make an entry.
Meanwhile, environmentalists, who study these coloured wing creatures, said existence of butterflies was considered a sign of how healthy an ecosystem was. “Butterflies are one of the best pollinators. Researchers study them for assessing the habitat loss and the impact of human intervention,” Rajesh explained.