Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 December 2019 | 11(15): 15068–15071




Recent records of the rare Mountain Tortoiseshell Aglais rizana (Moore, 1872) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in the upper Garhwal, western Himalaya, India, after 100 years


Arun Pratap Singh 1 & Tribhuwan Singh 2


1,2 Entomology Branch, Forest Protection Division, Forest Research Institute, P.O. New Forest, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248006, India.

1 (corresponding author), 2




doi:   |  ZooBank:


Editor: Sanjay Sondhi, Titli Trust, Dehradun, India.         Date of publication: 26 December 2019 (online & print)


Manuscript details: #5276 | Received 26 July 2019 | Final received 06 December 2019 | Finally accepted 10 December 2019


Citation: Singh, A.P. & T. Singh (2019). Recent records of the rare Mountain Tortoiseshell Aglais rizana (Moore, 1872) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in the upper Garhwal, western Himalaya, India, after 100 years. Journal of Threatened Taxa 11(15): 15068–15071.


Copyright: © Singh & Singh 2019. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.


Funding: Indian Council of Forest Research and Education, Dehradun, India.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: The current findings are part of a research project entitled “Butterflies associated with different forest types/sub-types in Uttarakhand (2017-2021)”  being  carried out at the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. The authors are thankful to Director, FRI and Head, Forest Protection Division, FRI for providing all the necessary facilities and the assistance received from Rohit Kumar in the field is duly acknowledged.



The Mountain Tortoiseshell Aglais rizana (Moore, 1872) has a distribution extending from Safed Koh (Pakistan), from Chitralup to Sikkim (inner ranges in India), where it is believed to be ‘rare’ and found in the ‘alpine’ region of 2,400–4,500 m during May–August’ (Evans 1932; Wynter-Blyth 1957; Haribal 1992; Kehimkar 2016).  Its distribution range outside India extends up to the Pamirs-Altai mountains through Afghanistan and adjoining Pakistan (  The species is absent in Nepal (Smith 1989, 2006; van Gasse 2017).  Specimens of A. rizana have been collected from “Cheeni (‘Chini’ or Kalpa in Himachal Pradesh) at 2,759m, middle Kunawur (upper Kinnaur District in Himachal Pradesh), N.W. Himalayas” (Moore 1872); “Gulmarg (Kashmir), Kunawur (Himachal Pradesh) and Thibet” (Tibet) (3,000m) where “it appears to be rare” (DeNiceville 1886).  While Wynter-Blyth (1940) reported it as a “rare butterfly of the high inner hills” with specimens collected from Shipki Pass in Kinnaur District in Himachal Pradesh along the Indo-China border, at 4,500m in July.  The species has only been reported once from the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Hannyngton (1910) from the “inner ranges above 3,000m in July-August”.  Four specimens from Hari-Ki-Dun (Uttarkashi District)  in northern Garhwal were collected by P.W. Mackinnon in June, 1907 (pers. obs.), while two more specimens were collected by S.N. Chatterjee in October, 1912 from the same area (pers. obs.).  A male and a female were later collected from Kashmir (3,000m), India by O.C. Ollenbach on 07.viii.1915 that are all kept at National Forest Insect Collection (NFIC) at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun (Images 1–4).  There are also recent reports of the occurrence of this species from the upper reaches of Kumaon in Uttarakhand bordering Nepal by Trilok Singh Rana and Emmanuel Theophilus (Sondhi & Kunte 2018).  There are, however, no recent occurrences of this species from the Garhwal Himalaya (Bhardwaj et al. 2012; Uniyal et al. 2013; Singh & Sondhi 2016) (Fig. 1).  The species is currently protected and is listed in Schedule II, Part II, of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (Anonymous 2006).

Two individuals of A. rizana were recorded (Image 6) from a “sub-alpine” patch of vegetation along the Badrinath-Mana road, Chamoli District on 06.vii.2019 (3,151m; 30.7600N & 79.4990E) in the company of Aglais caschmirensis from11.00h to 12.00h (temperature: 24.70C & relative humidity: 52%).  The vegetation here was composed mainly of Rosa sericea Lindl., Tanacetum mubigenum Wall.ex. DC, Urtica sp. along with herbs and grasses on rocky slopes by the side of the River Alakananda.

rizanais similar in appearance to the Indian Tortoiseshell Aglais caschmirensis (Kollar, [1844]), as the former is characterized by wings being broad and squarish, forewing cut off at the tip and not produced to apex but produced at v6 as compared to the latter where the forewing is narrow and more produced and the hind wings are quite prominently toothed at v.4 (Image 5).  The upper hind wing blue spots are not inwardly brown in A. rizana as in the A. caschmirensis (Evans 1932; Wynter-Blyth 1957; Kehimkar 2016).  It is to be noted, however, that the “black discal spots in space 2 and 3” on the upper forewing of the specimens examined from northern Garhwal (Images 3–5) are much bigger in size than that of specimens collected from Kashmir Valley (Images 1,2).

The current sightings confirm the occurrence of this rare species in the Garhwal Himalaya, after a gap of more than a 100 years.


For figure & images. - - click here





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