LEARNING ABOUT BUTTERFLIES:-PART-2
LEARNING ABOUT BUTTERFLIES:-PART-2
As work progresses at the Butterfly conservation effort on approximately 30 Kottah area at one corner of Lalbandh, we have discussed earlier(link-http://muktodhara.org/?p=4984)about the huge fascination of Tiger Group of butterflies to the plant Hatisur (Helitropium indicum). In fact a moderately laborious process of collecting Helitropium indicum from adjacent areas to Lalbandh immediately hooked the Tiger group of butterflies in the conservation zone. With sufficient host plants in form of Akanda (Calatropis gigantean) nearby and also within the conservation zone the Tiger group of butterflies got quickly domiciled. This was by far the most immediate result observed, which surprised me quite a lot. But naturally I was happy to find around 50 butterflies of Tiger group happy to settle down in the small area on which we are working right now. In fact it is lovely to always find those butterflies within hand shaking distance!
Another interesting feature of Helitropium indicum as per Wikepedia, is that the juice of this plant is used as medicine for conjuctivitis, popularly known as ‘Jay Bangla’ eye infection-which has now suddenly surfaced in Bolpur Santiniketan area!
I have already learnt that butterflies can be attracted and nurtured even in the open with just the right kind of plant selection. Or in short, an open butterfly conservation zone is a readily feasible effort at least to conserve the local population of butterflies. The snap above is a common scene everday in our butterfly conservation zone centered around some Hatisur plants. In fact I would like to opine that butterflies can be bred and nurtured in almost every house hold garden with a little careful selection of plants and by avoiding using chemical pesticides.
From the wonder plant Hatisur (Helitropium indicum), we are now happy to focus to the great Latane Bichuti, the irritatingly itching plant of the Tragia genus, Tragia involucrate or Tragia plukenetii. These are the host plants of the Castor group of butterflies, mainly the Angled Castor. As according to nomenclature the Castor plants (Varanda in Bengali) should be the most preferred host plant for the Angled Castor or the Common Castor butterflies. But, according to our observation, in presence of Latane Bichuti (Tragia Species) plants, the Castor group of butterflies is more prone to lay eggs on the Tragia plants rather on Castor plants. As a result we have got quite a few Angled Castor caterpillars in our butterfly conservation zone at Lalbandh. So, this is our second, fairly rapid successful re-action as far as butterfly conservation effort is concerned. Bringing the Latane Bichuti plants from few kilometers away from Taltore area was itself a fairly itchy affair; I along with my helper had to patiently bear with fair amount of itches- only thing we refrained from scratching the itchy area to make things less complicated! Otherwise one is sure to get painful red rashes on skin. Observing the preference of Castor group of butterflies for the Latane Bichuti plants, we have now brought in a few more. Incredibly, such is the affinity of Angled Castor with Latane Bichuti plants, that we find four five caterpillars on just a waist high Latane Bichuti plant (fairly fast growing though) with hardly 10 leaves. So, we are now worried about whether the food supply for the caterpillars will get depleted fast, and hence had to rush to collect more of Tragia varieties plants.
The snap above is of the Angled castor butterfly on the Bichuti lata plant in conservation zone at Lalbandh- not too sure about its intent but the butterfly is probably on an egg laying venture.
I am also keen to create a grass zone with plenty of grass flowers that we find as tiny sparks everywhere. So, that is the scene right now at the butterfly conservation zone. The Tiger Group and The Castor group of butterflies have been made familiar with our 30 Kottah conservation zone, and we find them happily content with our effort. This time all the photographs are exclusively from the butterfly conservation zone. All these happened within 3 months of working on the zone starting from scratch. We have also managed to rope in two more varieties of caterpillars in our zone, with one kind of caterpillar which I could not specifically identify. More about these two new visitors hopefully in next episode. The crux of the whole matter that becomes relevant for me is that Nature reacts fairly fast and consistently to any kind gesture offered- that is what I learn with great humility and great pleasure.
Thanking everyone: Shubhashis