Butterfly Census in Delhi & Why butterflies are important for environment – An analysis

Butterfly Census in Delhi  done in September last year 2017 for studying about this tiny colorful species often found in the park fluttering in different eye catching colors. Its importance in the ecosystem are manifold as Butterflies presence and numbers tells a lot about the health of the environment.


Butterfly life span and concern about Butterfly Conservation has led to growing awareness among the citizen scientists. An exercise is held in Delhi to Count and photograph the number of butterflies.

In September 2017, this exercise of studying and counting butterflies was organized as part of Butterfly Month which was led by the Delhi government, the Bombay Natural History Society and the forest department.

This was second time a census of butterflies and sighting is done in India. The first was done in 1986. Asking the local citizens to join in this survey of counting butterflies, the state forest department also had appointed Conservation Education Centre (CEC), the education and awareness wing of Bombay Natural History society (BNHS) to carry out the butterfly count and provide a detailed butterfly census.

After taking all the numbers in account the final census was submitted to forest department for evaluation. Members also went to Schools to teach students about Butterflies, Butterfly life span, the 4 stages of life for a butterfly to create awareness among young students about the importance of Butterflies in our ecosystem.

Last year September in 2017 there was 81 butterfly species was recorded. Largest was the Lime butterfly and smallest was small blue a tiny butterfly. Lime butterfly named because it lay eggs on the lime plant.

Why such Study and Census on butterfly

Butterfly census is organized to know as how many butterflies are available in a region. Their number and variety indicates the health of the ecosystem in a region.

Butterfly belongs to insect’s family. They are good indicators to health of the biodiversity.

Butterflies habitats have been destroyed at such a fast pace that it’s becoming very difficult to restore. Adding to it the changing climate patterns with great unpredictability in response to pollution is making things worse for their survival.

Due to their fragility, butterflies react quickly to the changing environment. Their decreasing number, decreasing life span and struggle to survive is a warning threat about the environment.

Butterflies extreme sensitivity to climate change makes them good indicators of ecosystem and environmental health. So they are important subjects of study.

 Facts and Life cycle of Butterfly

Flower is all what a Butterfly needs. But this assumption is not all correct.

Some butterfly feeds on Nectar but lay eggs on something cushier like a succulent or fleshy type of plants.

Life cycle of a Butterfly requires some specific Trees & shrubs.  Like on some host plant it lay eggs and the caterpillar feeds on that plant’s leaves.

More the commonly occurring host plants more the abundance of species of butterflies that lives off it.

Tropics (a region of the Earth surrounding the Equator) are the region where almost 90 percent of the Earth’s butterflies are found.

An average species of butterfly has a life span which varies from 10 days to two weeks. One year is enough for a life cycle of a butterfly and no butterfly can live more than that.

Climate change and Global warming influenced greatly on the life span of some butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly – Wikipedia

Take for instance the case of Monarch Butterfly. It can migrate continents. Monarch Butterfly can live upto a month in summer but those migrating to mexico or California coasts can live upto 6 months. But in the last 20 years or so there is a decline of 90 percent in the population of Monarch Butterfly.


Declining number in cities

We can sight many butterflies fluttering on the wild grass near the park or small plants nearby. They lay eggs and feed on wild flower grown nearby. But due to artificial manicuring their habitat is all destroyed as all the wild grass has been cut.

Parks are managed in a horticultural way and not in an ecosystem way. Abundant use of Pesticide and manicuring of tress to give them an eye catching look has all but killed caterpillars and their habitats.

Many trees has been cut to give way for human colonies, structural development  and increasing number of vehicles which has a very adverse impact on the survival of butterflies and its habitats.


Measures for conservation

To build habitats of butterfly free from human activities and structural development.

A safe passage for them to travel from one park or garden to another within the city will help them in their survival. Free from human interference, it will make them breed in a favorable environment.

To plant more host plants favorable to the life span of butterflies is needed. These host plants are the place where they lay eggs and feed which is necessary for their life cycle.

Butterflies have important roles in the ecosystem. Being an excellent pollinators helping plants to reproduce they are an important link in the food web. Conserving them in all possible way should be done as no species however small is without any value on the earth and all are interdependent to each other for their survival.



News Source: The Hindu




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