Bombay Natural History Society, Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Butterflies, plant species, larval food plants, butterfly species, India, Fabaceae, Noopur Sharma Forest Protection Division, beautiful butterflies, caterpillars and butterflies, Sehima Shaniyar Poaceae Small, host plants, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd, Meeta Sharma, Arid Forest Research Institute, flowering plants, Junonia, Monarch Butterfly, Papilio demoleus Papilionidae, Junonia hierta, Papilio polytes romulus Papilionidae, Common Rose Pachliopta aristolochiae Papilionidae, nectar sources, pollinators, flower preference, European butterflies, Common Butterflies, systematic study, Gir Wildlife, Wildlife Sanctuary, foraging behavior, Diospyros melanoxylon, West Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, species of trees, Lycaenidae butterflies, Poaceae Small, National Academy of Sciences, Ficus racemosa Cluster fig tree, Western ghats, Natural History, University Press, food resources, study area, Small White, swallowtail butterflies
Biological Forum An International Journal
ISSN No. (Print): 0975-1130 ISSN No. (Online): 2249-3239 Nectar resource use by Butterflies in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
, Sasan, Gujarat
Meeta Sharma and Noopur Sharma Forest Protection Division, Arid Forest Research Institute
, New Pali Road, Jodhpur (Rajasthan)-342005, India (Received 05 June, 2013, Accepted 15 July, 2013)
ABSTRACT: Butterflies are known to be the most fascinating creatures existing on this earth and have a great aesthetic value
. They are in close relation with the plant species
as they procure nectar from flowering plants to meet their energy requirements while butterflies serve to be pollinators for various plant species which is the only means of their propagation. Hence in order to understand the butterfly-flower interactions, the present study was conducted in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Sasan, Gujarat to determine the numerous host plants associated with these beautiful butterflies. An extensive entomological survey for a period of two years in the forest area of Gir was undertaken. Out of the 50 butterfly species recorded in Gir, 27 species (54%) used nectar while other species obtained their food from non-floral resources such as mud, wet soils and cow dung. Highest number of butterflies were recorded in Lantana camara (19), followed by Asclepias syriaca (10), Tamarindus indica (6), Diospyros melanoxylon (5) and Ixora arborea (5) respectively.
Key words: Butterflies, Nectar, Pollinators, Gir wildlife sanctuary, Host plants, Food
INTRODUCTION Plants are a food source for many insects and animals; some plants play host to caterpillars whereas other plants provide sustenance for butterflies. Butterflies help to pollinate plants in return. Insects visit flowers to obtain food, usually in the form of pollen or nectar. The plants obtain the services of pollinators in carrying pollen from one flower to another (Proctor et al., 1996). Butterflies are often considered opportunistic foragers that visit a wide variety of available flowers. However their choice of flower is not random and they exhibit distinct flower preference which can differ between species (Jennersten, 1984). The choice of plants as nectar sources by butterflies depends on various factors including innate color preference, corolla depth, clustering of flowers from which nectar can be extracted (Porter et al., 1992). The flower scent is an important signal for butterflies initially to identify and subsequently to recognize and distinguish among rewarding plants. The life cycle of plants, caterpillars and butterflies has closely evolved to ensure the continuation of various plant and animal species. Butterflies are generalists, able to exist in a wide variety of habitats. Most butterflies however are far more specialised, each species having its own particular requirements regarding habitats, temperature, humidity, larval food plants and adult food sources. Most species of caterpillars and butterflies only populate specific plant families. Host plants are the types of plants that butterflies choose to populate with their larvae. When a caterpillar changes
into a butterfly, it will populate various types of other plants for food. Each category of pollinator is associated with a syndrome of dependent floral characteristics (size, shape, and reward). The flora of Gir comprises of many flowering and non-flowering plants which appear during rains. The vegetation changes along with west to east axis. The various plant consists of herbs (40.43%), trees (21.12%), shrubs (16.67%), climbers (14.19%) and grasses (7.59%) (Kumar and Meena, 2012). Many of these plants serve as hosts for various stages of butterfly life cycle. The consideration of Gir came into picture because of the fact that it has become a very stable ecosystem with tremendous regenerating, self supporting and self sustaining capacity due to its rich and diverse flora and fauna. Also, it is a potential place to be a centre for creating environmental awareness and imparting nature education (Kumar and Meena, 2012). It supports a varied topography means a corresponding variety of microclimates, rainfall patterns, plant distributions, wetlands and therefore the butterfly distributions. The majority of species occur in fair close proximity to their larval food plants. Shahabuddin (1997) has worked on butterfly visitors to 20 plant species in Palni hills, Western Ghats. The environmental condition
s of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary differ from it. Hence, the present study gives a picture of the butterfly attracting plant species in Gir that may be helpful in future afforestation programmes.
Sharma and Sharma
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Catopsilia pyranthe, Eurema hecabe and Papilio demoleus. They were noticed in all the seasons.
The study area
: A systematic study
was carried out to Lycaenidae butterflies were dominant during monsoon.
find out the food resource
s of butterflies in Gir Wildlife Papilionidae were always encountered flying at heights
Sanctuary. Various nes, thana and rivarine sites were in pair or singly.
selected from eastern and western Gir ranges that come under Wildlife Sanctuary areas i.e. between Latitude 20o 40' N to 21o 50' N and Longitude 70o 50' E to 71o 15' E ( Krishnan and Guha, 2006). The present study covered an area of 678.45 sq. km in West Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. The study area has rich flora and wild life. The major vegetation consists of Tectona grandis
, Wrightia tinctoria, Acacia catechu, Zizyphus mauritiana, Acacia nilotica, Anogeissus latifolia, Acacia leucophloea, Terminalia crenulata, Diospyros melanoxylon, Bauhinia purpurea, Grewia tiliaefolia, A. ferruginea, Boswellia serrata, Lannea coromandelica, and Butea monosperma (Sharma and Johan Singh 1995).
Nectar resources: Plant species associated with these butterflies were identified as their host plants. Out of the 50 butterfly species recorded, 27 species used nectar while other species obtained their food from non-floral resources such as mud, wet soils and cow dung. Floral nectar of 50 plant species was used as food. The food plants comprised of 27 species of trees, 10 species of grasses, 9 species of shrubs and 4 species of herbs respectively. Highest number of butterflies were recorded in Lantana camara (19), followed by Asclepias syriaca (10), Tamarindus indica (6), Diospyros melanoxylon (5) and Ixora arborea (5). Five plant species namely Terminalia arjuna, Balanites aegyptica, Bauhinia variegata, Commiphora wightii
Study method: The natural vegetation
consisting of and Lannea coromandelica were not observed visited
trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers and grasses were observed by butterflies (Table 2). The flower color and size also
to find out the food resources of butterflies, in different influence the visiting insects, therefore majority of
seasons. Recording of flower visiting insect species, butterflies were attracted to white flowers (36.36%).
their foraging behavior, length of the visits and number This was followed by yellow (29.09%), red (20%) and
of flowers visited in unit time was done. All the above green (14.55%) respectively (Fig. 1). Also small sized
data were recorded between 0600 and 1800 hrs. flowers charmed maximum butterflies (Table 2).
Butterfly species were collected and identified by using Foraging behavior and timings varied among different
standard books of Kehimkar 2008; Gay et al. 1992 and species. Most of the species remain active in the
Wynter Blyth 1957.
forenoon (Selvarathinam et al., 2009). Junonia
lemonias visited many flowers and spent long durations for collecting nectar. Danais chrysippus was observed
Butterfly Diversity: A total of 50 species of small and the whole day siphoning nectar. On the contrary,
large butterflies belonging to four families within an swallowtail butterflies like Graphium sarpedon, area of 678.45 km2 of Western Gir Wildlife Sanctuary Pachliopta aristolochiae occasionally visited flowers
encompassing eighty localities were recorded (Table 1). and spent only 1-2 seconds in a single flower and flew
The most dominant family was Nymphalidae followed away. The major flower visitors were Euploea core,
by Pieridae, Lycaenidae and Papilionidae. The data Phalantha phalantha, Eurema blanda, Anaphaeis
indicated that the smallest butterfly recorded was aurota and Catopsilia pomona.
Castalius rosimon (Lycaenidae) and the largest was Pachliopta aristolochiae (Papilionidae). Among the butterflies sampled, Castalius rosimon is enlisted in Schedule-I, Hypolimnas misippus is enlisted in Schedule-I and II and Euploea core is enlisted in Schedule-IV of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act,1972 (Evans,1932; Gaonkar, 1996; Kunte, 2000 & 2008; Larson, 1987 & 1988; Talbot, 1939; Wynter-Blyth, 1957).
Non-floral food source: Species of Pieridae and Papilionidae are generally seen mud puddling (Sreekumar and Balakrishnan, 2001). Catopsilia pyranthe, C. crocale, Anaphaeis aurota, Eurema blanda, Papilio demoleus and Graphium sarpedon were observed mud puddling on wet soil in the monsoon season. Alongside, two species of Nymphalidae viz. Euploea core and Phalantha phalantha were also observed mud puddling at times. Males seem to benefit
The faunal diversity of butterflies was greatly from the sodium uptake through mud-puddling
influenced by season, monsoon to late winters being the behavior with an increase in reproductive success. The
preferred seasons. However, butterflies of some collected sodium and amino acids
are often transferred
families were also visible during summers. The most to the female with the spermatophore during mating as
commonly observed species were Danais chrysippus, a nuptial gift. This nutrition enhances the survival rate
Junonia lemonias, Junonia hierta, Junonia orithya, of the eggs (Pivnik and McNeil, 1987; Medley and
Eisner, 1996; Molleman et al., 2004).
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Table 1: Butterflies recorded in Western Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Sasan, Gujarat (2011 to 2013).
S. No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Common Name The Lemon Pansy The Blue Pansy The Yellow Pansy The Peacock Pansy The Danaid Eggfly Blue Tiger
7. Plain Tiger/African Monarch 8. The Monarch Butterfly/ The Milkweed Butterfly 9. The Baronet 10. The Common Indian Crow 11. The Common Leopard 12. The Common Nawab 13. Common evening brown 14. Common threering 15. Dark evening brown 16. Spotted joker 17. Angled castor 18. Painted lady 19. Tawny coster
20. The common pierrot 21. Common guava blue 22. Forget-me-not 23. Babul blue/ Topaz spotted blue 24. Indian red flash 25. Stripped pierrot 26. Common silverline 27. Bright babul blue 28. The Lemon Emigrant
29. The Mottled Emigrant 30. Yellow Orange Tip 31. White Orange Tip 32. The Pioneer White
33. The Black veins 34. Small orange tip 35. Plain orange tip 36. Crimson tip 37. The Common Jezebel 38. The Common Grass Yellow 39. Three spot Grass yellow 40. Spotless grass yellow
Euthalia nais Euploea core
Phalantha phalantha Charaxes athamas Melanitis leda Ypthima asterope Melanitis phedima Byblia ilithyia Ariadne ariadne Vanessa cardui Acraea terpsicore Syn. A. violae Castalius rosimon Virachola Isocrates Catochrysops Strabo Azanus jesous
Baspa melampus Tarucus nara Cigaritis vulcanus Azanus ubaldus Catopsilia pomona Syn. Catopsilia crocale Catopsilia pyranthe Ixias pyrene evippe Ixias Marianne Belenois aurota Syn. Anaphaeis aurota Aporia hippie Colotis etrida Colotis eucharis Colotis danae Delias eucharis Eurema hecabe
Eurema blanda Eurema laeta
Family Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Nymphalidae Lycaenidae Lycaenidae Lycaenidae Lycaenidae Lycaenidae Lycaenidae Lycaenidae Lycaenidae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae Pieridae
Legal Status Schedule I & II - - - Schedule IV - Schedule I - - - - -
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41. Broad bordered grass Eurema brigitta
42. Common gull
43. Small white
44. Large white
Lime Papilio demoleus
46. The Swallowtail
Rose Pachliopta aristolochiae Papilionidae
48. The Common Mormon Papilio polytes romulus Papilionidae
49. Zebra butterfly
50. Common bluebottle
Table 2 : Butterfly attracting plant species (flowers) recorded in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Sasan, Gujarat (2011 to 2013).
1. Lantana camara Lantana, red sage, Verbenaceae
syriaca (Herb) Milkweed
Ber, Indian plum, Rhamnaceae
Flame of forest, Fabaceae
8. Tectona grandis Teak
10. Cassia fistula Golden shower Fabaceae
11. Nerium oleander Oleander
12. Acacia catechu Khair, cutch tree, Fabaceae
13. Acacia nilotica Babul,
Small Small Small
white, pink, or 19
orange or red
Small Yellow-green 2
Large Large Small Small
White, pink to 2
White to pale 1
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14. Acacia senegal Gum Arabic tree, Fabaceae
gum acacia, gorad
Safed kikkar, Fabaceae
Banyan tree, Vad Moraceae
17. Syzygium cumini Jamun
18. Diospyros melanoxylon (Tree)
20. Ficus racemosa Cluster fig tree, Moraceae
Indian elm, Charal Ulmaceae
23. Albizia lebbeck Sirus (Tree)
Vilayati babul, Fabaceae
juliflora (Shrub) Gandobaval
28. Aegle marmalos, Stone apple, bili Rutaceae
31. Vitex negundu Five leaved haste Verbenaceae
Dhawa, dhavdo Combretaceae
33. Sterculia urens Gum karaya, Malvaceae
Bidi leaf tree, Fabaceae
racemosa (Tree) Asundharo
35. Bombax ceiba Cotton
Salai , saaledi
Creamy white 3
Small Pinkish-red 1
Small Small Small Small Large Large Small Small
Red & yellow 6
Small Large Small Small Large Large Small
White to blue- 1
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Ixora arborea Torch tree
Dhaman, dhamani Malvaceae
Castor oil plant Euphorbiaceae
Rat's tail grass, Poaceae
Cymbopogon gingergrass and Poaceae
rosha or rosha
Chrysopogon Guria grass
Apulda mutica Mauritian Grass, Poaceae
Common needle Poaceae
adscensionis grass, lapdu
Heteropogon black spear grass, Poaceae
Soap berry tree
Large Yellow-green 0
Indian ash tree, Anacardiaceae
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Fig. 1. A graph depicting the preference of color of flowers by the visiting butterflies.
DISCUSSION Most butterflies have specific habitat and food requirements. Although adult butterflies are sensitive to their choice of flowers for feeding, most species never visit some flowers (Feltwell, 1986). All the butterflies are not flower visitors, only the highly evolved species whose mouth parts are represented by a long, thin proboscis, is adapted for feeding on liquid diet known as nectar (Wynter-Blyth, 1957). The amount of nectar present in a flower is related to foraging visits of a butterfly. When little nectar is available, visits are short and a butterfly visits many flowers. While when large amounts of nectar accumulate, the butterflies need to spend more time to extract nectar and hence they visit few flowers (Cruden, 1976). This study indicates that Gir proves to be a flourishing habitat for butterflies various life cycle stages (egg to adult). Since butterflies are in close relationship with vegetation, they indicate the floral diversity of a habitat. This diversity, in turn, determines the survival of herbivores and hence the dependent carnivores of that particular habitat. The nature of vegetation is an important factor that determines the survival of herbivores in a particular habitat. Being highly sensitive to changes in environment, butterflies are easily affected by minor changes in the habitat. To maintain a healthy habitat, it is essential to sustain the biodiversity.
Hence, to attract butterflies, butterfly attracting plant species listed here may be included in the afforestation programmes. Therefore, protecting butterflies confers protection of coexisting organisms as well. The checklist of host plant species provides suitable route for mass scale breeding of beautiful butterflies species in order to develop a butterfly garden in future studies. Due to various developmental activities, most of the natural habitat of butterflies is under threat. There is need to identify the threats and survival chances of various species by which the conservation programme can be develop. There is a need to further survey work in the other parts of Gir to get the entire spectrum of butterflies and their host plants in this region. It also reiterates the need to have more such unadulterated areas such as National parks
and Wildlife Sanctuaries for long term conservation of rare and endangered flora and fauna. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The authors would like to thank the Director, Arid Forest Research Institute
, Jodhpur for their co-operation in financial assistance
of the project and State Forest Department
, Gujarat for granting permission and valuable support during field studies.
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