Scientists welcome these winged ‘infiltrators’
Pak butterfly, Chinese dragonfly, miles from known habitats, now listed in India
Unlike human migrants, rare winged visitors from across India’s western and eastern borders have been welcomed by naturalists and included in lists of indigenous species.
Miles away from their native habitats, a Pakistani butterfly and Chinese dragonfly have been recorded by citizen scientists — non-professionals who contribute to scientific research and data collection — for the first time in the India.
The butterfly, Spialia zebra, was found in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan, far south of its known habitat of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab province of Pakistan.
The dragonfly Atratothemis reelsi was recorded in southern Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve, about 1,170 km west of its previously known nearest locality of Xiaoqikong Park in China’s Guizhou Province.
The sighting of the two insects was published in the latest issue of Bionotes, a quarterly newsletter for research on life forms.
“The zebra skipper has added to the richness of Rajasthan’s orchid belt comprising Phulwari ki Nal Wildlife Sanctuary and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary,” Mukesh Panwar told The Hindu from Sagwara in Dungarpur.
He collected a specimen of the zebra skipper and provided photographs for the Butterfly Research Centre at Bhimtal in Uttarakhand to record it as the first of its kind in the country.
“India now has 1,328 species of butterflies. The zebra skipper is difficult to observe because it is quite small and flies rapidly low over the ground,” said Peter Smetacek of the Bhimtal centre.
Minom Pertin, Roshan Upadhaya, Tajum Yomcha and Arajush Payra were on a butterfly-spotting trip in May in Namdapha. They ended up recording a dragonfly representing the westernmost range of its species and adding to the Indian Odonata fauna.
“It was a bonus find, never before recorded in the eastern Himalayas. It augurs well for the biodiversity of this region,” Mr. Pertin said.
The quartet’s finding was reviewed by Parag Rangnekar, a Goa-based entomologist specialising in butterflies and dragonflies. The Atratothemis reelsi was found to resemble other blackish dragonflies, one of them confined to Australia.