Giant Redeye - Gangara thyrsis
Gangara thyrsis thyrsis Fabricius, 1775 – Oriental Giant Redeye
|Collage of Giant red eye (freshly emerged)|
The first record in Mumbai Region:
|Egg of Giant redeye on coconut leaf|
One fine morning, around 7 AM, I was roaming in medical gardens at IIT Bombay looking if I could get some good photographs of flowers and basking butterflies. Ambiance was cool and cheering, sun-light slowly rising. However, butterfly activity was low and hardly I could find any butterfly fluttering. Unable to click a decent photo is pathetic and frustrating situation for a photographer. Long wait starts breaking the patience and mind starts planning to return to home. To my experience, at this precise stage photographer discovers something un-usual. The find hold photographer, cheer him up and boosts the moral. Another hour or two is added to the trek till next breaking point arises. This morning was not different from such many experience I had. I decided to have a last look around and return to home. There it was, appeared suddenly on flower some 6 feet away from me. Something bigger than skipper and was surely not a moth. After allowing hardly two snaps, the object flew away so fast that I couldn't track it. Thankfully, I succeeded in shooting a reasonable good record-photograph. To my surprise, snap was the first photographic evidence of recent time of Giant Redeye (GRE) in Mumbai region.
Importance of record shot:
I have developed a habit of always shooting a record-snap before shooting good snap, to avoid any kind of embarrassment. Record-snap should be enough for identification of the object. Immediately on returning home, I referred few books and websites, specie I recorded surely was GRE. Still, I could not believe what I found because of two reasons: No body has ever reported GRE from Mumbai in recent time and I was amateur. Some experts need to confirm it and for that I decided to publish it on Facebook. Issac Kihimkar, immediately identified and confirmed GRE and went further to congratulate me for first photographic record. Interestingly, after me reporting the image, many butterfly-enthusiast found and photographed GRE all-over Mumbai. Next year, plenty of caterpillars were discovered and life-cycle record was completed.
Habits of GRE:
|Caterpillar and pupa of GRE|
GRE, is one of the large skippers and no doubt a swift flier. It has large abdomen and wing span about 75 mm. This specie is active just after dawn and before dusk. Individual is so sensitive to light that after eclosion carried in controlled environment, responds to the switching of artificial light source. Long proboscis enables it to nectar on the common flowers with long pollen tubes. When not is use, proboscis is wound in circular fashion and is an appealing object to shoot.
GRE lays characteristic vase shaped eggs on coconut palm trees. Caterpillar with red colored body marks, has cotton thread like a loose shaggy filamentous clothing which is actually pure wax excreted. Caterpillar wounds the flaps of coconut leave and creates a shell. If cat is present in the shell, it responds tapping on the shell by shaking its body. Caterpillar grows up-to 2 inches and then forms pupa inside the shell. Redeye appears in the pupa stage and further becomes a feature.