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17 new butterfly species seen in Delhi

A total of 115 species were identified — primarily in Yamuna Biodiversity Park and Aravali Biodiversity Park. Butterflies were also sighted in the Kamala Nehru Ridge and the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
February 8, 2018 5:37:56 am
butterfly species, 115 species of butterflies, Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Aravali Biodiversity Park, Kamala Nehru Ridge, Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, Delhi news A newly compiled list of butterfly species shows that 17 new species have been sighted in the city since September 2017. (Express photo by Narendra Vaskar/File)

A newly compiled list of butterfly species shows that 17 new species have been sighted in the city since September 2017, when the last study on the subject was conducted. The study was held between 2012 and October-November 2017 over “various months-long systematic surveys and review of existing literature”.

A total of 115 species were identified — primarily in Yamuna Biodiversity Park and Aravali Biodiversity Park. Butterflies were also sighted in the Kamala Nehru Ridge and the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.

The paper has been written by Sumit Dookia, a faculty member at the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), Jayita Biswas, a PhD scholar at the university, and M Faisal from the Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystem, University of Delhi. The study was published in the November 2017 issue of the International Journal of Zoology Studies.

The last annotated and detailed checklist of 86 butterfly species in the city was made by T B Larsen in 2002, and the last informally compiled checklist was made in September 2017 by Dr Durya Prakash. His study showed 98 species in the city.

In the paper, the authors have written, “Total 17 new records were listed after the last available list of Prakash (2017). Out of these new records, a Himalayan butterfly species — Indian Tortoiseshell Aglais caschmirensis — was observed and photographed at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park by one of the author (M Faisal) in the winters of year 2011 and 2012.”

While conducting the study, the authors found that the dominating family of butterflies was that of Lycaenidae, commonly known as the blues. At least 36 species from the family were found. The Nymphalidae with 28 species was a close second, following which came the Pieridae family with 26 species and the Hesperiidae family with 15 species.

“The least number of species, nine, were found from the Papilionidae family. The study found that none of the butterflies sighted in the capital were from the newly formed Riodinidae family,” the authors said.

“All these 115 species have been sighted in the last five years. Some have been sighted once and others have been sighted multiple times. However, it cannot be said that all these species are still in Delhi,” said Dookia.

Faisal, however, said, the “diversity” of butterflies should not be confused with their “density”. “Both because of rising air pollution, and the lack of habitat, the population of butterflies is much lesser than it should be,” he said.

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