India, which is among the 17 megadiverse countries of the world, hosts nearly 1,400 species of butterflies.
The month of September, when nature shows its miracles, many new plants and flower start glooming, and butterflies can be seen easily, has been dedicated to one of the most loved, beautiful, and colourful winged wonders—butterflies. One of the most amazing things about this insect is how they change form from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
A caterpillar is the larval stage of a moth or butterfly. Actually, it is the second part of their four-stage life cycle (Egg, Larva, Pupa, Adult) Caterpillars have long, worm-like bodies with six apparent legs. They can also have a variable number of stumpy baffling legs (called prologues), which help them to move and cling to things.
These delicate creatures are an intricate part of the ecosystem and act as an important biological indicator in determining the health of the environment.
Environmentalists and people all around the world are celebrating this month, popularly known as the Big Butterfly Month—the butterfly enthusiasts are organizing several activities in order to conserve these small wonders.
Among the most important ones is counting butterflies across India from September 14-20, and sharing the count on platforms such as the India Biodiversity Portal, iNaturalist, or ifoundbutterflies.
Another activity in which many youngsters are showing interest is ” National Butterfly of India”.
A group of 50 butterfly enthusiasts, researchers, writers, and experts from across the country have led an initiative to select the ‘national butterfly’ of India.
𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝗮 𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗕𝘂𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗹𝘆?
Butterflies are ambassadors of nature conservation and they are important biological indicators that reflect the health of our environment. To create awareness about butterflies among the citizens of India and to celebrate our national natural treasures, these butterfly enthusiasts and nature-lovers from all over the country have gathered as a National Butterfly Campaign Consortium to nominate India’s National Butterfly.
Considering the ecological importance, conservation significance and growing popularity of butterflies among the general public, it is high time to nominate the National Butterfly. In a truly democratic manner, that is, Voting for National Butterfly.
The selection process to elect the national butterfly was carefully examined by well-known experts of the field like Dr Krushnamegh Kunte and Issac Kehimkar. While they had initially shortlisted nearly 50 species of butterflies found across India, the experts later ranked all the 50 candidates on the basis of several characteristics
𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗕𝘂𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗹𝘆 𝗽𝗼𝗹𝗹 𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝘁?
Prominent stalwarts in the field of butterfly biology and conservation across India came together on a single platform to derive the following criteria for selecting the National Butterfly:
1. The butterfly should have cultural, ecological and conservation significance for the nation as well as internationally.
2. The butterfly should be charismatic.
3. The butterfly should have an inherently attractive biological aspect that is engaging to the public.
4. The butterfly should be easily identified, observed and remembered.
5. The species should not have multiple forms.
6. The butterfly caterpillars should not be harmful or a pest.
7. The butterfly should not be too commonplace.
8. Avoid species which are already designated as a State Butterfly.
Considering the above criteria, the Consortium arrived at a final list of about 50 butterfly species. From these, a scoring system was used in voting by all the Consortium members to shortlist the final 𝘀𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 species given below.
The characteristics helped the experts narrow down the list to seven finalists. These species, and the Indian states in which they are found, are as follows:
Common jezebel: Northeastern states, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Chhattisgarh.
Five-bar swordtail: Northeastern states, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka.
Krishna peacock: West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh.
Yellow gorgon: Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, West Bengal.
Common/Indian nawab: All across India.
Northern jungle queen: Sikkim, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh.
Orange oakleaf: All across India
𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗯𝘂𝘁𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁:
You can cast a vote to choose the National Butterfly and share the link with your friends and family so that they can vote, too. Please vote only once.
The poll will start on 11th September and conclude on 8th October 2020, at the end of the Wildlife Week.
Now, to crown a winner, experts have opened a poll on September 11 to allow the citizens to choose their favourite among these. The poll will conclude on October 8, 2020, and individuals can cast their votes for this first-of-its-kind initiative here.
Divakar Thombre, who is one of the members of the core polling group, told TheIndiaRise, formal communication over this has already taken place with the environment minister. We’ll be submitting a proposal to the government of India on or before October 10. And then by the end of this year or beginning of 2021, we’ll get a national butterfly.”