Butterflies flutter at Delhi conservatory
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Last Updated: Sunday, May 02, 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.


First Published: Sunday, May 02, 2010, 18:27

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