The idea of chasing butterflies in the garden instantly evokes nostalgia, often bringing back carefree memories from childhood. With the fifth edition of the Big Butterfly Month-India 2021, which commenced on Saturday, you will get a chance to relive these moments and study these beautiful winged insects up-close. The theme this year, ‘Habitat for Butterflies’, will allow butterfly enthusiasts and experts to focus on the insect’s habitat development. The celebrations will conclude on September 30.
Sohail Madan, Center Manager, CEC-Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary (ABWLS) Delhi, BNHS, “In 2020, this became an all-India programme. We now cover all states and union territories of India, with more than 44 organisations being a part of this currently. Our focus is mostly on building habitat, for which a series of workshops have been planned. We will be doing on-ground implementation. Apart from that, we are also conducting population study. So, we will be working on a time constraint method of counting butterflies, in addition to identifying the species.”
Highlights of the month
Various activities namely the Big Butterfly Count, Butterfly Online Workshops, Butterfly Habitat Workshop, Butterfly Gardening Workshop, Butterfly Origami Workshop, and contests on Butterfly Photography and Videography, and Butterfly Lifecycle, will be conducted at regional and national levels. The itinerary also has Butterfly Origami and webinars on butterflies. These will be conducted for school and colleges through virtual platforms due to the pandemic.
This year, the Big Butterfly Count will be held throughout September on an all-India level. Participants are encouraged to make their submissions on the citizen science digital platforms including Butterflies of India, iNaturalist, and India Biodiversity Portal.
“In Delhi, we will conduct walks on September 25-26, where we will introduce people to the world of butterflies and help people identify them. We will also conduct half-hour counts to let them know the process. Habitat making will also be taught during the walks,” adds Madan.
Sandeep Kannan, 23, who works as a system engineer in an IT firm, attended a walk organised at CEC-Delhi last week. He has been volunteering for several projects of organisations such as WWF and CEC BNHS, and frequently visits the sanctuary. “When I got to know about this walk by Krushnamegh Kunte of The National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, through our WhatsApp group, I registered for it. We did a butterfly count in the nursery on campus. Later, experts discussed the butterflies of India,” adds Kannan, an IGNOU campus resident, who has been interested in nature since childhood.
“In 2019, I was part of a 45-minute count on campus with my friends, and we found over 20 species, including the Blue Tiger, Plain Tiger, and Lime Butterfly,” adds Kannan, who is excited about being a part of the upcoming events.
A healthy ecosystem
Butterflies play a vital role in the ecosystem as they are pollinators and components of the food chain. Madan adds, “They [butterflies] act as a food source for various organisms such as spiders, wasps, dragonflies, birds, and lizards. They also help in plant pollination and, importantly for us, act as good indicators of the health of the environment and ecosystem. So, studying butterflies is imperative to understand our surroundings.”
People can even create butterfly habitats in their gardens and backyards. Sharing that it is easy to do so, Madan explains, “We have to keep three things in mind. First, the native host plant. Every species of butterfly has a specific host plant or family of host plants on which they will lay their eggs. The caterpillar comes out of the egg and feeds on leaves. For instance, for the Common Mormon butterfly, one needs to have Curry plant, and for Common Lime you can plant a lemon tree. The other two things are that no pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides should be used. Also, the garden must be maintained less. Keep the garden as wild as possible.”Get updates on the Facebook pages of Conservation Education Centre-ABWLS, Delhi, and Big Butterfly Month India.
Month 2020A total of 74 species were recorded in Delhi at more than 55 locations by 47 survey team members.Rare species found in 2020: Dark Cerulean, Common Albatross, Striped Albatross, Common Shot Silverline, Common Mime.A total of 3,500 people had participated in over 32 educational programmes.
Workshop on Outreach for Butterflies by wildlife biologist and SPROUTS CEO Anand Pendharkar on September 6; 7:00pm.Butterfly walks at CEC Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, Delhi, on September 25-26; 8:00am.