Rare Butterfly Documented In The Nilgiris

  • A rare butterfly, which had not been spotted in the Nilgiris for over 130 years, was documented along the Kotagiri slopes recently.
  • The Branded Royal (Tajuria melastigma), a species of lycaenid, was last recorded in the Nilgiris in 1888 by G.F. Hampson, and there is only one other record in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Branded Royal is very rarely seen in India, with only four or five records in existence – in the Nilgiris, Dindigul and two in Kerala and Karnataka.
  • Each butterfly has a host plant, so one of the reasons that it’s not spotted often could be that the host plant it relies on could be rare.

One potential threat that was noticed by the WBA members who photographed the Branded Royal was the prevalence of invasive plants such as Lantana camara near where the butterfly was spotted.