The Hindu

Sci­en­tists wel­come these winged ‘in­fil­tra­tors’

Pak but­ter­fly, Chi­nese drag­on­fly, miles from known habi­tats, now listed in In­dia

- RAHUL KARMAKAR

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.

‘Bonus bug’

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.

 ?? SPE­CIAL AR­RANGE­MENT ■ ?? Far from home: Ze­bra skip­per but­ter­fly and, right, the Atra­tothemis reelsi drag­on­fly.
SPE­CIAL AR­RANGE­MENT ■ Far from home: Ze­bra skip­per but­ter­fly and, right, the Atra­tothemis reelsi drag­on­fly.
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