Butterflies flutter at Delhi conservatory

Last Updated: Sunday, May 2, 2010 - 18:27

New Delhi: If you admire butterflies then
it`s time to head towards Lodhi Garden in the national capital
where hundreds of exquisite colourful winged jewels of nature
are all set to fire your imagination.

In barely seven months, the butterfly conservatory set up
in the three acres of land has become the abode of a
wide-ranging attractive winged insects, flitting from one
flower to another.

Angled Caster, Common Leopard, Common Evening Brown,
Small Orange tips, Grass Jewels, Spirited Tiger, Plain Tiger
and Peacock Paney are some of the many butterfly species to
ensure a visual delight at the park.

"We hope the conservatory to boost the declining
butterfly count in the city as at least 24 species of these
fragile creatures have been already spotted in and around it.

"Over 51 new species of larval host plants have been
planted to provide a site for the butterfly to lay eggs and
also food source for the emerging caterpillar," says NDMC
Assistant Director (Horticulture) Satyender Pal.

For instance, the Angled Castor feeds on Ricinus
communis, Alfalfa butterfly on clovers and deer weed, Tragia
involucrate and Black rajah on the tamarind tree, Banded Blue
Pierrot on Ziziphus Oenophila and Cabbage White on many plants
in mustard family and cabbage family etc.

"Many of these plants, such as Murraya exotica, Grewia
asiatica and Lantana camara have been brought from Aravali and
Yamuna bio-diversity parks," says ecologist M Saha Hussain
from Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded
Ecosystems (CEMDE), Delhi University.

Hussain who has given technical guidance for creating the
conservatory is currently engaged in developing miniature
eco-system including butterfly garden in the bio-diversity
parks.

The specially created space carved out of around 90 acres
of Lodhi Garden is presently out of bounds for the public, but
as it has been built in a low depression one can easily see
the most fascinating insects from outside.

An insectary has been setup for keeping larvae of
butterflies and has been covered with a net for the safety of
the larvae from the birds.

"As the butterflies which has life-span of 55 days, are
very sensitive in nature, we are using only organic manure
instead of any insecticide, pesticide and chemicals. Also,
efforts are ensured to use clean water for the plants in the
conservatory," says Pal.

A lotus lily pond and mud pond have also been
developed which have become favourite congregation spots of
the butterflies. The nearby herbal garden has come as an
advantage where one can notice many pupa out of which
butterfly emerges.

"Butterflies serve as an excellent barometer of our
environment because of their sensitive nature to habitat
destruction. Over the years, the number of these coloured
creatures have dwindled due to climatic changes, pollution and
shrinking of the green cover," says Suhas Broker of an NGO,
Green Circle, which has helped in setting up the project.

There are around 72 identified species of
butterflies in Delhi, according to Hussain.

The concept of such mini butterfly garden is fast
catching up with the authorities. Other such conservatories
are being planned by NDMC in gardens like the Nehru Park.

Delhi-based Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) too
proposes a similar conservatory while IIIT- Gwalior has
already set up one with an aim to create awareness about
eco-system among its management students, says Borker.

According to some estimates, there are about 20,000
butterfly species worldwide of which 1,501 are in India.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 2, 2010 - 18:27

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