Butterfly enthusiasts record new altitude for Peacock Pansy Junonia almanac butterfly

Gangtok, 20 Apr:

Naturalist Nosang M Limboo and his team have come up with a new altitudinal record for the Peacock Pansy Junonia almana butterfly species.

Peacock Pansy is a common species of Nymphalid butterfly found in forests and grasslands of Southern Asia.

It has been recorded in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Peacock Pansy is active almost throughout the year [January-December] and it has been recorded at elevations upto 2,100 meter. The caterpillar of the butterfly feeds on Acanthus, Barleria and Gloxinia.

A specimen of Peacock Pansy was photographed at Chipchipey, a small glade at 3,289 meter in extreme western part of Sikkim towards Singalila Range on 04 Apr, according to Nosang. The remote location is under Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in Uttarey.

“A single species was observed basking in the grass patch in the middle of Rhododendron forest. The butterfly was observed for more than 30 minutes. The butterfly seemed to have needed the warmth to raise its temperature for flight. During the encounter both the upper side and underside were clearly photographed to confirm the identity of the butterfly. The Junonia almana has a distinct difference from other Pansys in coloration and pattern. No other butterflies were on the wing at that time,” said Nosang M Limboo.

Nosang M Limboo said the Peacock Pansy butterfly has not been recorded at such altitudes before. The previous elevation where the butterfly has been recorded was at 2,100 meter.

According to Nosang, with this sighting the known altitudinal distribution of the butterfly has now been extended up to 3,289 meter in India. It is normally active at lower elevations [2,100 meter] and was not recorded at this altitude before.

“It will be a huge contribution to the scientific study of this butterfly species. Now it is recorded that the butterfly is found at higher altitudes also,” he added.

“The Himalayas have herbaceous plants which might have attracted the butterfly,” he informed.

However Nosang said that it needs to be confirmed whether the butterfly breeds in the area, or whether it was migrating or whether it was merely a straggler blown unwillingly to that elevation.

He thanked all his trekking team members consisting of Manisha, Sikha, Gunjan, Shivangi, Shamim, Natasha, Bharati, Ramya, Jyoti, N.B. Chettri, Kinzong Bhutia, Piran Elavia.