deponti (deponti) wrote,

A dozen of the most common butterflies in Bangalore (or so I think!)

Well, actually, that title is not entirely accurate...because the first two butterflies are what I call VIB (Very Important Butterflies)....the first is the State butterfly of Karnataka...the Southern, or the Sahayadri, Birdwing. It was earlier seen only in the Wester Ghats,but sightings in and around Bangalore are becoming more common.

1. The Sahayadri Birdwing is also considered the largest butterfly in India. With its yellow and red being the colours of Karnataka, the yellow and black are more noticeable and very striking.


2. The second is a butterfly discovered by a student lepidopterist, Nitin Ravikanth Achari, after a gap of nearly a 100 years....the Lilac Silverline.

Lilac Silverline

Now, let us start on the butterflies one is most likely to see in the does not have to go to any far-flung areas; these can be sighted in our gardens and parks.

This is not an erudite post, dividing the butterflies by families and scientific's just a list of butterflies that will enable an OB (Ordinary Butterer, or Butterfly-watcher) like me, to name the beauties when they see them.

However, for those who would like to learn a little more about them, I have given the link for each on the Indian Foundation for Butterflies, a truly encyclopaedic source, to which many people have contributed images and information. The link will give the scientific names of the butterflies. Where the male and female look very different, I give the images of both.

3. The Common Grass Yellow is one of the most aptly named butterflies. It's common, it's normally found on the grass, and it is yellow!

Common Grass Yellow on Coat Button (Tridax procumbens)

4. The Common Mormon is common, but we are now getting into the realm of "why on earth is it called that?" (Each one has a different general, praise or blame the British people who named them!)

Male Common Mormon

The female often mimics the Common Rose butterfly, which has toxins in its body and is therefore unpalatable to predators. A neat survival trick!


5.Some butterflies are named after their host plant (that is, the plants on which the butterflies lay their eggs, and where the larvae feed). One such is the Common Lime, now called the Northern Lime Swallowtail.

Common Lime

It's such a striking butterfly, I can't resist one more image:

Northern Lime Swallowtail

6.Another butterfly named after its host plant is the Common Castor.

Common Castor

7.Another beauty is the Crimson Rose:

Crimson Rose

8.There are many Pansy butterflies; you would be most likely to see the Lemon Pansy.

Lemon Pansy

but let me also include a really striking one, the Blue Pansy.

Blue Pansy

9. I can't leave out the Tigers! The one most likely to be seen is the Plain Tiger, which is not all plain, but quite a beauty!


Oh, yes, I can see the question forming in your head...Oh, yes, there is a Striped Tiger, too!

Striped Tiger

10. I must not forget one example of the butterflies which are called Blues, because they show such bright blues when flying. Here is the Common Cerulean:

Common Cerulean

11. The next "common" butterfly for this list is the Common Crow. I suppose the black colour of the butterfly might have given it this common name.

Common Crow

12. Let me end this list with a lovely, colourful, striking butterfly, the Common Jezebel. This butterfly was in the running for the State butterfly of Karnataka, but sadly, some prudish people decided that since the name was that of a woman of bad reputation in the Bible (read about Jezebel, here , the Sahayadri Birdwing, where the yellow-and-red combination of the Karnataka flag is less obvious, became the state butterfly!

Common or Indian Jezebel

13. As a bonus and to make it a baker's dozen, here is one representative of the Ring butterflies; the one you are most likely to see is the Common Four-ring. Ring butterflies are generally identified by counting the rings on the lower under-wing.

Common Four-ring

Now, all these butterflies go through that wondrous and mysterious life process called metamorphosis. They have their eggs, their larvae or caterpillar stages (in which they can have as many as five forms, or instars), their dry and wet season forms, their upper and lower wings, their markings, several morphs or forms, slight differences between the male and female which are visible to the all I can do is to give an introduction into the fascinating, dazzling, daunting and confusing world of these winged creatures of the light and air.

There are several excellent butterfly field guides available, but for beginners in Bangalore, I would strongly suggest getting the superb brochure brought out by National Centre for Biological Sciences, Butterflies of Bengaluru. You can see it by clicking on the following link, and you can order it online. It is so easy to carry around, and you will quickly start identifying the butterflies!

Recently, Nitin and Dr Krushnamegh Kunte have also brought out a handbook:

iNaturalist is another great online resource to both learn about butterflies, and to contribute images as well.
Tags: bangalore, books, butterflies, karnataka, nature, photography, wildlife

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