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Malabar Tree-Nymph (Idea malabarica)


Malabar Tree-Nymph (Idea malabarica)





Luck favors who take chances - I took chance when Deepak said we can get Malabar tree nymph (MTN) caterpillar for sure at one place. Answer to this question was another question. Why dont you asked me before? The destination was another five kilometers inside the jungles, ahead of Ashtagaal (cotigao, goa). Thankfully a car was available and going there was not a problem. MTN is one of the largest butterfly species of India, with wingspan upto 160 cm. Could be easily identified with black spots on off-whit grey colored body, gliding flight and habit to hover over a particular spot. Species is endemic to the western ghat and is locally common. 





There were 4-5 individuals MTN  specimen were hovering over a patch of road. Every individual with characteristic a long gliding flight and then habit of settling down on some leaf at least 15 feet above the ground. The first hour was irritating, as I could not get a single snap of this black and white beauty. MTN is known to be  camera-shy butterfly. This forced us to move to a very small pond near by. Seating there and watching the other butterflies were fun. Redspot duke guarding the territory, Blue Nawab in brisk flight mode and again lots of MTN gliding. Prize for this nature watch - raw mangoes. That too, drop them with stone. Remove the pedicel rubbing it on the stone and sour the teeth. 

Apart from those moments no success. I thought to return as luck was not with me today it seems.  But then suddenly some fate-related planets were disturbed somehow it seems. Deepak spotted the caterpillar and then I saw the female laying eggs. Female laid eggs under the leaf at height from two feet  to ten feet.  Egg is quiet similar to that of common crow. Surprisingly two  males started court shipping the lady. But lady was not in mood till the first affair is not over. Males tried to woo female for a long time and I grabbed the chance to photograph the courtship. One of them shows the scent sales of male taken out during courtship. When tired pair settled dropping the idea to mate, I could grab some photos of both sexes, and of upper wing and under wings. Photos are dull as all of them were shot in almost dark. But I was happy as the chance I took was rewarded with all the stages of MTN life cycle but the pupa. It was stimulating half an hour for me. The sighting indeed was lifer. 
















By Paresh Kale



4 comments:

  1. Wow...Thanks for this so Nice Informations and Knowing about the largest butterfly species in India is Great..
    BTW Can you tell me how many species of Butterflies are found in India?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks...This is "ONE" of the largest. Largest in India is Southern birdwing, endemic to western Ghats:
      http://pareshkale.blogspot.com/2013/04/photographing-southern-birdwing-largest.html

      There are about 1500+ species fund in India. Around Mumbai we can see 125+. I have list of Mumbai butterflies here:
      http://pareshkale.blogspot.com/2012/02/butterfly-checklist-of-iit-bombay.html

      Delete
  2. This one is so beautiful I was imagining a nice fabric with this design.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indrani, u r right. Almost all butterflies have design that can be woven into fabrics. :-)

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