A ‘Pakistani’ with wings has become the 1,328th Indian of its kind around the same time as another winged creature from China earned a similar status.
Both have been recorded by citizen scientists — non-professionals who contribute to scientific research and data collection — for the first time in the country, more than 1,100 km from their known areas of distribution.
The butterfly Spialia zebra was found in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan miles south of its known home comprising Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab province of Pakistan. The dragonfly Atratothemis reelsi was recorded in southern Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve, about 1,170 km west of its previously known nearest locality of Xiaoqikong Park in China’s Guizhou Province.
The sighting of the two insects was published in the latest issue of Bionotes, a quarterly newsletter for research on life forms.
“The zebra skipper or Spialia zebra has added to the richness of Rajasthan’s orchid belt comprising Phulwari ki Nal Wildlife Sanctuary and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary,” Mukesh Panwar told The Hindu from Sagwara in Dungarpur district.
He collected a specimen of the zebra skipper and provided photographs for the Butterfly Research Centre at Bhimtal in Uttarakhand to record it as the first of its kind in the country.
“India now has 1,328 species of butterflies. The zebra skipper is difficult to observe because it is quite small and flies rapidly low over the ground,” said Peter Smetacek of the Bhimtal centre.
In Pakistan, the butterfly has been recorded from areas where plants need very little water, and from cultivated areas in lowlands or arid foothills.
Minom Pertin, Roshan Upadhaya, Tajum Yomcha and Arajush Payra had on May 19 undertaken a butterfly-spotting trip along the Miao-Vijaynagar road through the Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
They ended up recording a dragonfly representing the westernmost range of its species and adding to the Indian Odonata fauna. Odonata is an order of predatory insects comprising dragonflies and damselflies.
“It was a bonus find, never before recorded in the eastern Himalayas. It augurs well for the biodiversity of this region,” Mr. Pertin said.
The quartet’s finding was reviewed by Parag Rangnekar, a Goa-based entomologist specialising in butterflies and dragonflies.
The Atratothemis reelsi was found to resemble other blackish dragonflies, one of them confined to Australia. Its genital section distinguished it from the others.