The three-day survey was organised jointly by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) and the Forest and Wildlife Department at three forest ranges under the North Wayanad forest division and each forest range under Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and South Wayanad forest division. The survey was mainly aimed at assessing the butterfly diversity in the forest areas of the region, a vulnerable region to climatic changes. It was also aimed at assessing the availability of nectar plant and larval host plant, essential for the survival of butterflies. Six researchers, Muhammed Jaffer Palot, Senior Scientist, Zoological Survey of India; Balakrishnan Valappil; Saji; Chandrashekharan Koyilandi; V.C. Balakrishnan; and Pavithran Vadakara; and 75 butterfly enthusiasts, including students, took part in the survey. The team reported 43 species of skippers, 44 species of blues, 15 species of swallow tails, 19 white and yellows, and 57 species of brush-footed butterflies, A.T. Sudheesh, KSBB coordinator of the survey, and P.A. Ajayan, district coordinator, KSBB, said. Rare species such as Danaid egg fly, Crimson rose and Malabar banded swallow tail were sighted at Mattilayam forest under Mananthavady forest range, Periya under Periya forest range and Kuruva island under Chethalayath forest range respectively.
The sighting of 178 species of butterflies is an evidence of a healthy butterfly habitat in the region, but the degradation of riparian forest in many part of the region may adversely affect the butterfly habitat in the near future, V.C. Balakrishnan of the Society for Environment Education in Kerala (SEEK) said.

Source : The Hindu