An observation on hordes of butterflies at RMNH, Mysore

Srinivasa S J

Fig: Partially eaten specimen collected

The regional Museum of Natural History gardens witnessed huge hordes of butterflies in this post monsoon season [2013]. The influx [during 18th October to 18th November] of these tiny beauties was little more compared to last year. The visual record of these flying jewels exposed that the swarm consists of Tiger butterflies [Milkweed Butterflies] of family Nymphalidae –Dark Blue Tiger Tirumalaseptentrionis, Blue Tiger Tirumala limniace, double branded Crow Euploea Sylvester and Common Crow Euploea core .

The garden houses varieties of flowering plants ranging from herbs to tall trees. On this occurrence of one month period [18th October to 18th November -2013] the soap nut trees Sapindus laurifolius, Crotalaria retusa, were in full bloom. These butterflies congregated on these plants in multiples, hovering around and clinging to the flower heads for a long time, scouting around for nectar along with many dipterans & hymenopterans counterparts.

The Dark Blue Tiger Tirumala septentrionis, numbered the maximum and the Common Crow Euploea core the lowest.

As observed, the first comers were Dark Blue Tiger Tirumala septentrionis, followed by Blue Tiger Tirumala limniace, Double branded Crow Euploea Sylvester, and lastly Common Crow Euploea core.

The other compotators were mainly honey bees, such as Apis dorsata dorsata Fabricius, Apis florea Fabricius, Apis cerena indica Fabricius, and the cavity dwelling sting less bee Trigona iridipennis Jurine.

And occasionally the Vespidae relatives [Ropalidia sp, hornets and other wasps], Odonates too visit the gathering to fulfill their purpose.

The old and wounded butterflies were found to fall indiscriminately and fall prey for ants, such as Common Red Fire ants Solenopsis geminata, Weaver ants Oecophylla smaragdina, Common Godzilla ant Camponotus compressus and Golden backed Ants Camponotus sericeus.

The local gardeners endorse that these butterflies will be more during the CHITTA-SWATHI NAKSHATRAS, i.e. the rain bore stars as per the Hindu almanac and they fade away as the rain Vishaka advances, this year CHITTA – 10-10-2013 to 23-10-2013 ,SWATHI -23-10-2013 to 06-11-2013 and Vishakha -06-11-2013 to 19-11-13 rained.