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Rediscovery of butterflies Arhopala bazalus Hewitson, 1862 and Catapaecilma major Druce, 1895 from Uttarakhand, India

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  • Government Post Graduate college, Ranikhet, Almora, Uttarakhand.

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In this paper, we have documented the rediscovery of two butterflies: Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus Hewitson, 1862 and Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major Druce, 1895 from a remote village Loharkhet, Bageshwar district of the hilly state Uttarakhand, India. Arhopala bazalus was rediscovered about 60 years after it was last recorded from Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Similarly, Catapaecilma major was rediscovered after a gap of about 87 years. The present findings are based on the survey carried out in various parts of Bageshwar districts from 09 th to 11 th September 2016. A total of 06 specimens of Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus were recorded from the same site during the study period. Another single sighting of this species was made by the first author on 16 th October 2016 from the Sikhar Hill, Shama of Bageshwar district. A single specimen of Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major was observed when it was puddling near a water stream on 10 th September 2016 at 11:00 hrs (IST) near a dirt road at Loharkhet village. The forest types of the study area have been classified as ranging from semi-evergreen to evergreen with a predominance of Oak species. There is a sufficient gap of more than half sanctuary in updating the distribution records and hence claiming the rediscovery of these rare butterflies is justified. These records are definitely important in the context of updating the status and distribution of the butterfly fauna in Uttarakhand.
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Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 2019; 7(2): 864-867
E-ISSN: 2320-7078
P-ISSN: 2349-6800
JEZS 2019; 7(2): 864-867
© 2019 JEZS
Received: 05-01-2019
Accepted: 10-02-2019
Shankar Kumar
Statistical Officer, O/o C.C.F.,
Kumaon, Uttarakhand, Nainital,
India
Raj Shekhar Singh
CEO, A Walk in the Woods, 21/2
Vasant Vihar, Dehradun,
Uttarakhand, India
Paramjit Singh
Ex-PCCF, Department of Forest,
Uttarakhand 21/2 Vasant Vihar,
Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
Sundar Kumar
Lecturer, Govt. Polytechnic,
Baram, Pithoragarh,
Uttarakhand, India
Correspondence
Shankar Kumar
Statistical Officer, O/o C.C.F.,
Kumaon, Uttarakhand, Nainital,
India
Rediscovery of butterflies Arhopala bazalus Hewitson,
1862 and Catapaecilma major Druce, 1895 from
Uttarakhand, India
Shankar Kumar, Raj Shekhar Singh, Paramjit Singh and Sundar Kumar
Abstract
In this paper, we have documented the rediscovery of two butterflies: Powdered Oakblue Arhopala
bazalus Hewitson, 1862 and Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major Druce, 1895 from a remote village
Loharkhet, Bageshwar district of the hilly state Uttarakhand, India. Arhopala bazalus was rediscovered
about 60 years after it was last recorded from Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Similarly, Catapaecilma
major was rediscovered after a gap of about 87 years. The present findings are based on the survey
carried out in various parts of Bageshwar districts from 09th to 11th September 2016. A total of 06
specimens of Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus were recorded from the same site during the study
period. Another single sighting of this species was made by the first author on 16th October 2016 from
the Sikhar Hill, Shama of Bageshwar district. A single specimen of Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major
was observed when it was puddling near a water stream on 10th September 2016 at 11:00 hrs (IST) near a
dirt road at Loharkhet village. The forest types of the study area have been classified as ranging from
semi-evergreen to evergreen with a predominance of Oak species. There is a sufficient gap of more than
half sanctuary in updating the distribution records and hence claiming the rediscovery of these rare
butterflies is justified. These records are definitely important in the context of updating the status and
distribution of the butterfly fauna in Uttarakhand.
Keywords: Loharkhet, Pindari glacier, Arhopala bazalus, Catapaecilma major, Bageshwar, rediscovery
1. Introduction
Butterflies are one of the most conspicuous species of Earth’s biodiversity. Butterflies are the
wild indicators of the ecosystem; these insects tell us everything about the healthier ecosystem.
These are effective pollinators, butterflies visit the flower to eat nectar and this is a mutually
beneficial relationship. These have different requirements for differing habitat types for
mating, breeding, and nectaring and are, thus, in sync with the diversity and quality of their
habitats.
The present study aims to document the status and distribution of rare butterflies found in
Loharkhet, Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand state of India. Uttarakhand, a hilly state of India,
hosts a significant proportion of India’s butterfly diversity, where many species are endemic;
some of them are very rare and have no recent records. Evans (1932) [2] recorded about 450
species of butterflies from this region. During the past two decades, there are many reports of
rediscoveries and range extensions for several species of butterflies from Uttarakhand; some of
the butterflies which were recently reported from Uttarakhand are Talicada nyseus Guérin
Menéville [12], Zesius chrysomallus Hübner [13], Nacaduba kurava Moore, Flos asoka de
Nicéville and Arhopala abseus indicus Riley [15]. Beside it, Matapa sasivarna Moore [6],
Anthene emolus Godart & Caltoris kumara Moore [7], Heteropsis malsara Moore & Pelopidas
agna Moore [8] and Gerosis phisara Moore & Caleta decidia Hewitson [9] are some recent and
significant records for Uttarakhand. A study to find out the diversity of butterflies at
Loharkhet, Bageshwar, was carried out over a period of 3 days from 09th to 11th September
2016. The two butterflies, Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus and Common Tinsel
Catapaecilma major were rediscovered after a long time and hence new additions into the
checklist of butterflies of Uttarakhand.
Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies
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2. Materials and Methods
2.1 Study area
The study area (Loharkhet village and adjacent areas) lies in
the northern part of the Bageshwar district in the Kumaon
Himalaya and exhibits a wide variety of suitable habitats for
the luxuriant growth and development of flora and fauna.
Loharkhet is situated at an elevation of 1,760 meters above
sea level. The study area contains mostly evergreen forests.
This region is dominated by Oak species associated with
Bamboo (subfamily Bambusoideae), Deodar (Cedrus
deodara), Chir pine (Pinus roxburghii), and Rhododendron
(Rhododendron arboreum) and Taxus baccata in some extent.
The area has large and viable populations of five pheasants:
Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus), Satyr Tragopan
(Tragopan satyra), Koklass Pheasant (Pucrasia macrolopha),
Cheer Pheasant (Catreus wallichii) and Kaleej Pheasant
(Lophura leucomelanos). Altitudinally Loharkhet is located in
the temperate zone. Broadly, three seasons can be recognized
for the study area, viz. summer (April-June), rains (July-
September) and winter (October-March). Winter experiences
serve cold and the main precipitations is received in the form
of snow. The mean annual rainfall of the Central Himalaya is
2000mm. The world-famous Pindari glacier is situated at a
distance of 40 km from Loharkhet.
Fig 1: Map of the study area. White triangle shows the site where Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus was first recorded and the site where
Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major was recorded marked as a star. Courtesy- Imagery ©2018 Terra Metrics, Map data ©2018 Google.
2.2 Methodology
The survey was carried out at various spots within the study
area by point and line transect methods [1]. The transect counts
were done between 10:00 hrs (IST) and 15:45 hrs (IST), and
transect walks were carried out in warm and bright weather
(19-28° C with 60% sunshine). The number of individuals
encountered along the line transect was counted and details of
location/site, activities, date, habitat, altitude and GPS
coordinates were noted for each species. During the survey,
Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus and Common Tinsel
Catapaecilma major were recorded and photographed by a
digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera using a 70300 mm
lens. Both the species were photographed from different
angles to get enough photographs to confirm the identification
of the species. The identifications were confirmed with the
help of literature by Evans (1932) [2], Wynter-Blyth (1957) [17]
and Kehimkar (2016) [5].
3. Results and Discussion
3.1 Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus Hewitson, 1862
Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus Hewitson, is a beautiful
butterfly belonging to the family Lycaenidae. In India, there is
only a single subspecies ssp. teesta (de Nicéville, 1886) listed
under this species. This species is found in evergreen forests.
The plant family Fagaceae and Dipterocarpaceae are the
larva host plant of this species. According to Varshney and
Smetacek (2015) [16], this species is found from Uttarakhand
to northeast India. Globally it is found in Nepal, Bhutan, and
Myanmar [5]. It is listed as “Not rare” by Paul Van Gasse
(2013) [4] ranging Kumaon to Arunachal, northeast India, and
Burma to Karens. A single specimen of this species was last
recorded and documented from Kumaon region of
Uttarakhand by Evans (1957) [3] nearly 60 years ago. He listed
the distribution of this species as Sikkim to Karens. Our
sighting of this species is the first one reported since then;
therefore it constitutes a rediscovery of the species in the state
of Uttarakhand, India.
A single specimen of Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus
was first recorded (Fig. 2) when it was resting on a Oak leaf at
10:39 hrs (IST) on 10th September 2016 at Loharkhet,
Bageshwar (30°02′56.03″ N and 79°57′35.91″ E). A total of
06 specimens were recorded the same day from the same site.
The first author also sighted a female of this species on 16th
October 2016 at the Sikhar Hill, Shama of Bageshwar district
while it was feeding on Oak tree sap. We interpret this species
is not as rare as previously thought, but its status in
Uttarakhand can be reliably assessed only after further studies
are conducted.
3.2 Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major Druce, 1895
Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major Druce, is a member of
the family Lycaenidae. The larval food plant of this species is
Terminalia (Combretacea). Evans (1932) [2] described this
species as Catapoecilma elegans, Common Tinsel with two
Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies
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subspecies: C. elegans myosotina with range Sri Lanka and
south India, and C. elegans major with range Orissa and
Mussoorie to Burma. In India, there are three subspecies
listed under this species [16]
1. C.m.callone Fruhstorfer, 1915 ranging from Maharashtra
to Kerala.
2. C.m.major Druce, 1885 ranging from Uttarakhand to
Sikkim.
3. C.m.anais Fruhstorfer, 1915 ranging from Manipur,
Meghalaya and Nagaland.
The global distribution of this species is from Nepal, Bhutan,
Myanmar, and Sri Lanka [5]. According to Varshney and
Smetacek (2015) [16], subspecies major is distributed from
Uttarakhand to Sikkim. Paul Van Gasse (2013) [4] added its
(ssp. major) range Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Our sighting of
this species is only the second record of the species in the past
87 years throughout its range in Uttarakhand. It was last
documented by O.C. Ollenbach (1930) [11] from the
Mussoorie region of Uttarakhand. Mackinnon and Nicéville
[10] also recorded this species from Mussoorie and Dehradun
in 1899. There is no other record of this species in the
literature or preserved specimens from Uttarakhand [14, 16].
A single individual of Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major
was photographed (Fig. 3), when it was puddling near a water
stream on 10th September 2016, at 11:00 hrs (IST) near a dirt
road at Loharkhet village (30° 2′ 42.41″ N and 79°57′ 44.93″
E). This butterfly was rediscovered from a single site and only
one specimen was seen, it is imperative that search for more
sites and sightings are a top conservation priority.
Fig 2 & 3: Powdered Oakblue Arhopala bazalus (Left) and Common Tinsel Catapaecilma major (Right) at Loharkhet, Bageshwar,
Uttarakhand.
4. Conclusion
The Kumaon Himalayas have been explored relatively poorly
as far as insect communities are concerned. The rediscovery
of two new butterflies also needs to be understood in the
context of the lack of past surveys in the region. In
Uttarakhand, there are at least 51 species of butterflies [14],
which have no recent records. Lack of proper scientific
research, documentation and awareness are the main reasons
for the present status of these two butterflies in Uttarakhand.
The larvae of Powdered Oakblue feed on Oak species and due
to forest fires especially in the Bageshwar District of
Uttarakhand, the Powdered Oakblue as well as other Oakblue
population is facing the threat. Oakblues are generally seen
perched on shrubs and grass, so forest fires are very harmful
to them. There are currently no regional targeted measures for
the protection and conservation of butterflies in Uttarakhand.
Such new records of two species to Uttarakhand state, during
a three-day study, highlight the conservation importance of
the Kumaon Himalaya. This area holds immense potential for
developing ecotourism focused around butterfly watching and
conservation. We hope that the recent sightings and the
information provided above will spur interest in the ecology
and conservation of both the species.
5. Acknowledgements
The authors are thankful to Mr. Jai Raj, Principal Chief
Conservator of Forests (PCCF), HoFF, Uttarakhand and Mr.
Monish Mullick, PCCF & CWLW, Uttarakhand for their
support. We also thank Peter Smetacek for his assistance in
consultations. We also thankful to Dr. Vipul Maurya, Pramod
Kumar, Sheetal Arya, Aizaz Ahmad and Sagar Balmiki for
their constant support and help in the field survey. A walk in
the woods is also acknowledged for their funding support and
the arrangements for the present survey.
6. References
1. Barhaum KP, Anderson DR, Cauke ZL. Estimation of
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population. WILD. Monograph no. 1980-1981; 72:515.
2. Evans WH. The Identification of Indian Butterflies. 2nd
edn. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. 1932;
464:32.
3. Evans WH. A revision of the Arhopala group of oriental
Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera). Bulletin of
British Museum (Natural History). Entomology. 1957;
5(1):122-123.
4. Gasse PV. Annotated checklist of the Butterflies of the
Indo-Burmese region, 2013;
http://flutters.org/home/docs/Butterflies_Of_
India_Paul_Van_Gasse.pdf
5. Kehimkar I. Butterflies of India. Bombay Natural History
Society, Mumbai, 2016, xii+528.
6. Kumar S, Singh P, Joshi K. Range extension of Matapa
sasivarna [Moore (1884)] Blackveined branded redeye to
western Himalaya. Indian Forester. 2018; 144(10):1010-
1012.
7. Kumar S, Singh P, Singh RS. Range extension of Ciliate
Blue Anthene emolus Godart (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)
and Blank Swift Caltoris kumara Moore (Lepidoptera:
Hesperiidae) into the Lower Western Himalaya. Journal
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bushbrown Heteropsis malsara Moore (Lepidoptera:
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of Dusky Yellow-breasted Flat Gerosis phisara Moore
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Estimation of density from line transect sampling of biological population
  • K P Barhaum
  • D R Anderson
  • Z L Cauke
Barhaum KP, Anderson DR, Cauke ZL. Estimation of density from line transect sampling of biological population. WILD. Monograph no. 1980-1981; 72:515.
The Identification of Indian Butterflies
  • W H Evans
Evans WH. The Identification of Indian Butterflies. 2nd edn. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. 1932; 464:32.
Annotated checklist of the Butterflies of the Indo-Burmese region
  • P V Gasse
Gasse PV. Annotated checklist of the Butterflies of the Indo-Burmese region, 2013;