Coimbatore’s Singanallur lake is a cosy nesting ground for butterflies

Express News Service

COIMBATORE: The Singanallur lake, one of the largest in the city, is not just a happy home for migratory birds, but also to over 104 species of butterflies. As many as 326 butterfly species have been recorded in the State, of which 104, over 30 per cent, are from the lake. This is against the district’s count of 278 over the last eight years.

The lake, an urban biodiversity conservation zone, attracts more butterflies as its larval host plants and nectar plants. Considering this, members of The Nature and Butterfly Society (TNBS) have called for special attention to the lake and urged the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) commissioner Raja Gopal Sunkara to announce the lake as a butterfly hotspot.

Out of 104 species spanning across 5 families and 64 genera recorded from the wetland — 9 Swallowtails, 20 whites and yellows, 17 Skippers and each 29 brush-footed and Blues families — are found.

A Pavendhan, member of TNBS said, “Since 2012, we have been focusing on the status and data collection of butterfly species not only in Singanallur but across Tamil Nadu. Regularly, our members from Coimbatore and Tiruppur take a walk for around two to three hours in Singanallur Lake as part of preparing checklist — species and count.  Apart from checklists of various butterfly hotspots, we also focus on exploration of new areas, surveys along with forest departments, migration studies, lifecycle studies, AI-based applications for the identification of butterflies.”

Explaining, he said, “In 2017, based on our five years study, the species count at Singanallur was 64 species, which was highest among the wetlands of Coimbatore surveyed. In the last five years, additional 40 species were recorded in the lake.”

Another member of the society H Ramanasaran said, “Butterflies are dependent on larval host plant (LHP) for their early stages and nectar plants for their adult food needs. It is important for the native plants to be protected as the LHP are entirely native, exotic and invasive plants. We are happy that such a large number of species count found in Singanallur Lake exposes the presence of a healthy and good number of butterfly LHPs.”

About protecting the species, K Sravankumar, a volunteer, shared, “We should strengthen native species by planting and maintaining them — by removing invasive species such as Lantana and Parthenium etc. As part of beautifying the wetlands, CCMC is setting up concrete structures on the bunds. As a part of the construction works, the authorities are removing the plants and weeds growing up in the bunds which are home to hundreds of small creatures. This would impact the ecology of the butterflies and their reproduction etc. We would also suggest involving local people as part of the protection plan as they are the primary resource in the protection.”

The study was done by Nishanth CV, Theivaprakasham H and other members of TNBS.

Family ——— Species

* Swallowtails: Southern Birdwing, Red Helen, and Blue Mormon, usually found in the forest environment

* Whites and Yellows: Striped Albatross, Great Orange-tip and Common Wanderer

* Blues: Common Acacia Blue, Indian Sunbeam, Large Oakblue

* Skippers: African Marbled skipper, Indian palm Bob, Common Redeye.

* Black-spotted Pierrot (Tarucus balkanicus) recorded at Singanallur in November 2017 is the first photographic record of the species for the Southern species.

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