Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 January 2018 | 10(1): 11205–11209








Butterflies of Peringome Vayakkara Panchayath, Kerala, India


C. Sneha

Sir Syed College, Karimbam, Taliparamba, Kannur, Kerala 670142, India











Abstract: The present study was made to assess the butterfly diversity of Peringome Vayakkara Panchayath located in the Western Ghats during 2012–13. The area is almost fully inhabited by humans and is under rapid conversion. A total of 108 species of butterflies belonging to six families were identified from the study area. The number of butterfly species encountered during winter was the highest (101), which decreased to 88 species in summer and it was only 67 during the rainy season. Fifty three species, however, were observed throughout the year. Seasonal variation on abundance was not very prominent in Papilionidae and Riodinidae. But Pieridae, Nymphalidae and Lycaenidae were less during the rainy season. On the other hand, Hesperiidae were maximum during the rainy season.

Keywords: Butterflies, diversity, Kannur, Kerala, seasonality, Western Ghats.







Butterflies are the most beautiful members among insects. They vary greatly in colour, habits and size (Gay et al. 1992), have important ecosystem roles including pollination, and they are useful in studies of population and community ecology. As butterflies are highly sensitive to environments, they can be considered indicators of ecosystem changes. Hence, it is encouraging that butterflies are now being included in biodiversity studies and biodiversity conservation prioritization programmes (Gadgil 1996). Many butterflies are seasonal in their occurrence. They are common for only a few months and rare or absent in other seasons. The seasons when they are rare or not active as adults are usually spent either as caterpillars or as pupae. The months when the adults are active are called the “flight period”. Distinct flight periods naturally imply seasonality of the early stages of butterflies as well (Kunte 2000).

Butterflies are one of the best taxonomically studied groups of insects (Robbins & Opler 1997). In India, butterflies have been documented since the turn of the 19th century (Williams 1938) and among 18,000 species recorded worldwide, 1,318 species are known to occur in India (Varshney & Smetacek 2015). The Western Ghats itself account for 334 species of butterflies (Evans 1932; Kunte 2000). From Kerala, 316 species have been reported (Palot et al. 2012). The present study was conducted to estimate the diversity, seasonality and abundance of butterflies in Peringome Vayakkara Panchayath, Kannur, Kerala.

Kannur, the land of looms and lores is situated in the Malabar region of Kerala (11.87450N & 75.37040E) and is rich in flora and fauna (Logan 1887). The Western Ghats bounds the district in the east, Kozhikode and Waynad districts in the south, Lakshadweep Sea in the west, and Kasargod District in the north (Fig. 1). The area enjoys humid climate with an oppressive hot season from March to the end of May (Weather parameters of the area during the study period: Mean daily maximum temperature 350C; mean daily minimum temperature 200C, average rain fall 320cm). Peringome Vayakkara Panchayath is situated in the northwestern side of the district and is spread over an area of 76.98km2. The area can be divided into highlands and laterite hillocks of middle lands. Available records show that highlands which fall in the Western Ghats were thick forests till the beginning of the 20th century.



Materials and Methods

The survey area includes bare lands in laterite hillocks, homesteads, sacred groves, plantations of rubber, coconut, areca nut, cashew etc., and riversides. Field observations were made once in 15 days from July 2012 to July 2013 over a one-year period. All habitat types were covered on foot and observations were made. The species encountered were identified in flight and species that could not be identified were photo-documented and identified with the help of a field guide by Kunte (2000). The status was scored using presence-absence scoring method and then percentage of abundance was calculated to determine the status. Based on the abundance, each butterfly species were categorized under different score classes such as very common (VC) 80–100 %, common (C) 60–80 %, occasional (O) 40–60 %, rare (R) 20–4% and very rare (VR) below 20%.




A total of 108 species of butterflies belonging to six families were identified from the study area (Table 1). The family-wise distribution of butterflies is given in Fig. 2. Family Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies) dominated the butterfly fauna of Peringome Vayakkara Panchayath with 38 species followed by Hesperiidae (Skippers) 26 species, Lycaenidae (Blues) 21 species, Papilionidae (Swallowtails) 14 species, Pieridae (Whites and Yellows) eight species, and Riodinidae (Judies and Punches) with a single species.

The seasonality in the occurrence of different species was also recorded during the study. Figure 3 represents seasonal variation in species richness of different families observed during the study. The number of butterfly species encountered during winter was the highest (101), which decreased to 88 species in summer and it was only 67 during the rainy season; however, 53 species were observed throughout the year (see Table 1).

Among the members of Papilionidae and Riodinidae families, seasonal variation on abundance was not very prominent. But Pieridae, Nymphalidae and Lycaenidae members were less during the rainy season (zero, three and one respectively). On the other hand, Hesperiidae members were seen the maximum during the rainy season (Fig. 4).








Discussion and Conclusion

Out of 316 species reported from Kerala, 108 species were recorded from Peringome Vayakkara Panchayath; to conclude that the study area is rich in butterfly diversity. Among 108 species, two species (Pachliopta hector and Hypolimnas misippus) are in Schedule I and six species (Papilio paris, Parthenos sylvia, Tanaecia lepidea, Euthalia aconthea, Pareronia valeria and Phalanta alcippe are in Schedule II as per Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The study area also contains two endemic species of the Western Ghats (Papilio buddha and Idea malabarica).

Monsoons govern the distribution of butterfly communities of India (Tiple & Khurad 2009). Food habits among species (Kitahara et al. 2000) also influence the relationship between climate and butterfly diversity and abundance (Southwood 1975). From the present study, it has been observed that among the total number of butterfly species present in the area only half of them were seen throughout the year. Occurrence of water bodies and abundance of larval host plants and nectar plants may be the reasons for the high butterfly biodiversity of the area.






Evans, W.H. (1932). The Identification of Butterflies, 2nd Edition. Bombay Natural History Society, 464pp.

Gadgil, Μ. (1996). Documenting diversity: An experiment. Current Science 70: 36–44.

Gay, T.I., D. Kehimkar & J.C. Punitha (1992). Common Butterflies of India. Oxford University Press, India.

Kitahara, M., K. Sei & K. Fujii (2000). Patterns in the structure of grassland butterfly communities along a gradient of human disturbance: further analysis based on the generalist/specialist concept. Population Ecology 42: 135–144.

Kunte, K.J. (2000). Butterflies of Peninsular India. Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and University Press, Hyderabad, 254pp.

Logan, W. (1887). Malabar Manual I and II. Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, India, 1194pp.

Palot, M.J., V.C. Balakrishnan & S. Kalesh (2012). An updated checklist of butterflies of Kerala, with their Malayalam names. Malabar Trogon 9(3): 22–29.

Robbins, R.K. & P.A. Opler (1997). Butterfly diversity and a preliminary comparison with bird and mammal diversity, pp. 69–82. In: Wilson, D.E., M.L. Reaka-Kudla & E.O. Wilson (eds.). Biodiversity II. Understanding and Protecting our Biological Resources. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, DC.

Southwood, T.R.E. (1975). The dynamics of insect populations. pp. 151­–199. In: Pimentel, D.(ed.). Insects, Science, and Society. Academic Press, New York.

Tiple, A.D. & A.M. Khurad (2009). Butterfly species diversity, habitats and seasonal distribution in and around Nagpur City, central India. World Journal of Zoology 4(3): 153–162.

Varshney, R.K. & P. Smetacek (eds.) (2015). A Synoptic Catalogue of the Butterflies of India. Butterfly Research Centre, Bhimtal and Indinov Publishing, New Delhi, 261pp.

Williams, C.B. (1938). The migration of butterflies in India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 40: 439–457.