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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blue Mormon becomes the State Butterfly of Maharashtra

Heard of - Papiliopolymnestor ?‘Thikkutheiryathakattilunnaithedialainthen’ is one of the many songs of the great Tamil Poet SubrahmanyaBharathiyar. ‘ThikkuTheriyathakattil’ (in a forest lost in directions) was also the name of a hit movie released in 1972 starring Muthuraman and Lakshmi … a song ‘poopoovaparanthupogumpattupoochiakka’ – a child asking the butterfuly as to who gave it such a beautiful shirt ! – was a grand hit of yesteryears.

These winged wonders are beautiful to look at.  The monarch butterfly  migrates long distances and reportedly goes ‘winter getaway’ to the warm mountain forests of Mexico. Today, conservationists and eco-enthusiasts are fixated more on the plight — not the flight — of the butterflies. Studies by the World Wildlife Fund and other conservation groups show that monarch populations in Mexico have plummeted.

Away from the monarch, a ‘social butterfly’ is a   popular slang term for a person who is socially dynamic, networking, charismatic, and personally gregarious.  Social butterflies are lively characters, comfortable – fitting in every environ, making friends easily – and keeping in touch with no geographical features. Social media like FB, Twitter, Instagram can do wonders – and you get to see so many photos, people and happenings everyday – when you stay in touch...

The blue Mormon (Papiliopolymnestor) is a large swallowtail butterfly found in South India and Sri Lanka.   Butterflies are part of the class of insects in the order Lepidoptera. Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight.  Butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.

The news is - Blue Mormon, the second largest butterfly found in India,  is now the ‘State Butterlfy’ of the State of Maharashtra.  Maharashtra has become the first state in country to have a ‘state butterfly’. It has accorded the status to Blue Mormon. The decision was taken Monday at a meeting of the Maharashtra State Wildlife Board.Chief Minister DevendraFadnavis chaired the meeting that was also attended by Forest Minister SudhirMungantiwar and Minister of State for Forest Ram Shinde.

The colourful butterflies add to the beauty of every garden. In our story books, we often come across the mention of butterflies. But it never got the same status as state’s special flower or fruits get,” said a senior Minister.  Maharashtra is home to 225 varieties of butterflies and accounts for 15 per cent of the country’s estimated butterfly population. Butterfly academicians, research scholars and nature lovers had requested Mungantiwar to consider Blue Mormon for the status.

Easily identifiable, the Blue Mormon boasts exquisite velvet-like black wings with bright blue spots, and now is a State symbol.  The status affords it some added importance and might offer some more protection.  There are National animals / birds too -  interestingly, some Nations have extinct or never-existed-in-the-first-place  as their national animals !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd June 2015.

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