Butterfly Park in Chandigarh is situated in front of the main entrance of Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology in Sector 26. The butterfly park is spread over an area of 7 acres, laid out in a meticulous manner. In this garden special care is taken to set up a habitat for butterflies.
This park is full of host plants and vegetation which is suitable for breeding butterflies. Varieties of flowers are needed for nectar which provides additional supplement to the butterflies along with overripe fruits and self-prepared nectar.
We have made two beds to facilitate butterflies for mudpuddling and this bed contains animal urine, dunk, bird-dropping, salt and other minerals. To maintain proper moisture there is small pond and we have provided water-falls and sprinkling of water at green net house and glass house which are meant for breeding butterflies.
We have also small nursery for host plants and seasonal flowers. It is pertinent to mention here that no pesticide or synthetic fertilizer is used in the park. Special care has been taken for suitable habitat for basking etc.
I am working on butterflies since 2007 immediately after my retirement and documented about 100 species of butterflies and I maintain two Facebook pages of the Department of Wildlife and Forest department i.e. “Butterflies of Chandigarh” and “Migratory Birds of Sukhna Lake” as an administrator in a joint venture of government and private organisation.
There were lots of butterflies in Chandigarh but a 52% decline in the population of butterflies worries. I have also observed that due to introduction of supplement nectar and varieties of natural flower nectar the species of butterflies increased and the butterflies species like Black Rajah, Common Nawab, Chestnut Tiger, Orange oak leaf, Common Mime, Common Snow Flat, Chestnut Angle, Palmfly, Tawny Coster, Vagrant, Commander, Common Map, Common Jester, Indian Tortoiseshell, Blue Admiral and Striped Blue Crow which were never seen before in the Butterfly Park are now seen and started breeding there is a good sign.
There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies in the world and around 1,500 species in India and 100 species are recorded in Chandigarh. It is a matter of concern that farmers and homeowners spray herbicides on milkweed plants which is host plant of many butterflies like stripped tiger, plain tiger etc.
But in Butterfly Park we are planting more and more milkweed plants like Aak and Blood Flower in the open area and also in the glass house and green house with amazing results and above all this is being done because the caterpillars only feed on Aak, Blood Flower etc. leaves which contains toxic chemical/poisonous substance which protect them from their predators.
It may be mentioned here that bird never eat dark coloured butterflies as they are aware that these contains poisonous substance.
There are mainly five families of Butterflies like Hesperiidae (Skippers), Papilionidae (Swallowtails), Pieridae (Whites and Yellows), Lycacenidae (Blues) and Nymphalidae (Brush-footed).
Their life cycle is egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult butterfly. The life span of butterflies varies from species to species like small butterfly of blue family may live for few weeks and large butterfly like swallowtails family may live up to eight months depending upon the climate where they breed. But life of Painted Lady butterfly is 12 months.
Butterflies have the ability to go into hibernation at every stage of life cycle. Butterflies are cold blooded animals and need 87 degree Fahrenheit temperature to fly. Best time to shoot (with camera) or see them is early in the morning till they acquire 87 degree temperature or late in the evening, which their resting time.
Most butterflies lay 300 to 400 eggs some singly but some in clusters within 24 hours of mating. Males will die within 6 to 8 weeks after using up all their sperm with a succession of females. Female will also die after she laid all eggs.
Amazing facts about Butterflies:
1. Butterfly wings are transparent.
2. Butterflies taste with their feet.
3. Butterflies live on an all-liquid diet. A butterfly cannot live on sugar or flower nectar alone. It needs minerals, too. To supplement its diet of nectar, a butterfly will occasionally sip from mud puddles which are rich in minerals and salts and also gain sustenance from tree sap, rotting animal matter, overripe fruits and other organic material but butterfly caterpillars almost all eat its host plant if leafs are not available, they prefer to die of hunger.
4. A butterfly must assemble its proboscis as soon as it emerges from the chrysalis because its mouth is in two pieces.
5. Butterflies can't fly in cold. Being cold blooded animal they are able to fly on acquiring 85º F temperature.
6. A newly emerged butterfly can't fly. The butterfly must immediately pump body fluid through its wing veins to expand them.
7. The life span of butterflies varies from species to species from 2-4 weeks to 9 months. Painted Lady butterfly can live up to 12 months.
8. Butterflies are nearsighted. Butterfly eyesight is quite good for 10-12 feet, but they can see and discriminate a lot of colors. A butterfly sees you through its 12,000 eyes.
9. More than 17, 000 species of butterflies are found all over the world. India is home to about 1500 species of butterflies which constitute 65% of total Indian fauna. The largest butterfly with a wing span of 190mm is the Southern Birdwing and the tiniest is the smallest butterfly Grass Jewel with a 15mm wingspan and found in Chandigarh. About 100 species have been recorded in Chandigarh.
10. Butterflies employ all kinds of tricks to keep from being eaten. Mostly bright colored insects often pack a toxic punch if eaten, so predators learn to avoid them. A butterfly's rich color can act as camouflage.
11. Butterflies have migration tendencies. Monarch Butterfly migrates from Canada to Mexico and California covering distance of 3000 miles to south Mexico. In India, Crimson Rose Butterfly can travel all the way to Sri Lanka covering 2000 miles over the sea from Rameswaram.
12. Butterflies have six jointed legs and three body parts: the head, the thorax and the abdomen. The wings are attached to the thorax and they also have a pair of antennae.
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