BENGALURU: There may be more butterfly species added to the city naturalist’s list, but that does not mean Bengaluru is greener today. Infact, they could mean just the opposite. The discoverers say that it just means that these populations are less spread out (or crowded into the few remaining green spaces) and easier to spot.
An expert, however, adds that the sightings could also mean that there are wild landscapes in the city that need protection.
Nitin R, who is one of the founding members of the Bengaluru Butterfly Club and part of the team that spotted the 23 butterfly species, says, “The green cover in the city has reduced considerably. Most of the butterflies that were spread out across the city now have very limited space and therefore can be spotted in areas where the green cover is still intact.”
Infact, butterflies have to be tougher now than then to survive in Bengaluru. “The biggest threat to butterflies in the city is mostly habitat destruction by converting empty spaces and lakes into buildings,” he says. “Another serious but lesser known threat are manmade fires during summer.” Since most of the empty places, reserve forests and university campuses burn waste and fallen leaves during summer for maintenance. “During summer, the population of butterflies is at its lowest due to scarcity of food plants. Burning decimates the entire population,” he says.
Dr Krushnamegh Kunte, Reader (Assistant Professor) at National Centre for Biological Sciences, says the added count is a result of “intensive sampling by the Bengaluru Butterfly Club”. He is surprised that these species, which normally are found in forests, were spotted in the city limits and sees this as an indication that Bengaluru still has wild butterfly habitats.
“The scrub forests and savannahs of Bannerghatta and other rolling hills around Bengaluru have been particularly productive in this sense. It will be important for the Karnataka forest department to protect these habitats to conserve biodiversity of this area,” he says.
Dr Kunte says residents and the corporation could perhaps develop butterfly-friendly gardens, but “ultimately, some wild spaces are essential to maintain populations of wild butterflies...If parts of Hesaraghatta, JP Nagar and other areas around Bengaluru can be spared from housing and other developmental activities with the goal of preserving biodiversity, then we have some hope of supporting biodiversity around this burgeoning city.”
Nitin names the few remaining sanctuaries for butterflies: JP Nagar Reserve Forest (Doresinapalya Reserve Forest), Bangalore University Campus, IISc Campus, Savandurga, GKVK Campus, Jarakabandi Reserve Forest, Hesarghatta Grasslands, Camp GeeDee (near Bannerghatta), Makalidurga, Devarayanadurga and Horaginabetta.
New additions to butterfly list
Rounded Palm-redeye, Southern Chestnut Bob, Complete Paint-brush Swift, Karwar Swift, Bengal Obscure Branded Swift, Variable Plain Palm-Dart, Dakhan Spotted Flat, Sahyadri Fulvous Pied Flat, Indian Common Small Flat, Oriental Spotted Angle, Dakhan Large Snow Flat, Sri Lankan Plain Hedge, Oriental Grass Jewel, Indian White-tipped Lineblue, Indian Lesser Grass Blue, Indian Purple Leaf Blue, Indian White Tufted Royal, Anomalous Nawab, Brown King Crow, Oriental Common Lascar, Dakhan Treebrown, Striated Five-ring, Oriental Common Mime