Swarms of butterflies bring a flutter to the hearts of nature loversView(s):
Butterfly enthusiasts were in for a treat recently when kaleidoscope of butterflies were witnessed in several parts of the country.
In the past it was quite common to see swarms of butterfly traversing in one direction and people would look at this phenomenon and say they were heading on a pilgrimage to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak). But as the country’s natural habitats began to shrink this sight all but disappeared.
The recent sightings consisted mainly of the Common Albatros (Appias albina), a white butterfly that lays eggs on ‘weera’ trees (Drypetes sepiaria) that grow in the dry zone of Sri Lanka.
Lakshman Kumara of Butterfly Conservation and Research Group of Sri Lanka (BCRG), describing what he saw said, “on March 6, I was in Loolkandura in the Central Province, and after seeing several common albatross butterflies, it occurred to me that the butterflies could have migrated to the area from their breeding grounds in the dry zone.”
He said he also heard from other butterfly enthusiasts, that similar mass movements were spotted in different parts of the country.
Rajika Gamage, a butterfly expert and author of the Illustrated Field Guide has been monitoring the recent movement of these butterflies. On March 6, He too had spotted a kaleidoscope of butterflies in Thalawakele where he lives.
“They were all Albatross butterflies and they were moving in a column–more than 60 butterflies passing a single point every one minute.” The movement continued with the same intensity the following day too and then started dropping, he said.
Mr. Gagame said around 100 butterfly enthusiasts have been witnessing interesting sightings, so based on their information, the butterflies had reached Manampitiya March 11. “We want to try to map the paths of these butterfly movements, with the help of the public,” Mr.Gamage told the Sunday Times.
Seasonal movements of butterflies usually occur due to a boom in butterfly population that usually follows a rainfall that ends a drought period.
“A drought can reduce populations of both butterflies and their prey. But when the right conditions arrive the butterfly population can recover fast, leading to a boom according to experts. Mr. Gamage said butterfly movements occur throughout the year but people only notice such a phenomenon when there is a surge in numbers.
Dr. van der Poorten in his Field Guide to the Butterflies of Sri Lanka states that Common Albatros usually fly in large numbers from February – March.
The BCRG requests the public to inform them of sightings of large numbers of butterflies by calling 0777 433 911.
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