Butterfly Larval Host Plants of BD (A short note on Butterfly larval host Plants)
The Butterfly is one of the most fascinating and beautiful creation of nature. Bangladesh, a country of profound biodiversity is well-equipped by butterflies to retain its sustainable phenomena. They act as environmental health indicators, pollination agents, and elements of an eco-system to achieve sustainable floral diversity. Butterflies are insects, which have unrivalled supremacy over living organisms, constitute the largest faunal component on earth, and occupy almost all ecological niches ranging from the cold Arctic to dry desert regions, including hot springs, deep caves and high mountains. It has proven itself to be the invaluable for conservation.
There are four stages of development of a Butterfly and the whole process is called metamorphosis. It maintains a complete metamorphosis in its life cycle. Butterflies start their life with eggs laid on a leaf, usually hidden from human eye, but not always. It takes three days to form a caterpillar, the second stage of its development. The other name of caterpillar is the Larva. Larvae usually take 2-3 weeks to grow about 3000 times. When this stage is over, it tries to hang on a leaf and changes into a Chrysalis, also called a Pupa. This stage continues for one or two weeks and then the butterfly needs to emerge with its fully developed wings.
Butterflies do not have a mouth but have proboscis, which helps to suck up nectar. Butterflies are very host-specific. Lawachara National Park, Satchari National Park, Mirpur Botanical garden, Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University etc. are the sanctuaries of butterflies in Bangladesh.
Larval host plant of a Butterfly:
A larval host plant is a particular variety in which butterflies lay their eggs. Each and every butterfly is very specific to a plant on which it will lay its eggs. For example, Cabbage-white butterfly lays eggs only on Cabbage.
Larval host plants of butterflies in Bangladesh:
It is a matter of regret that a very few research have been done on butterfly larval host plants so far in Bangladesh. Some of our common larval host plants are – Aegle marmelos, Citrus aurantifolia, Clausena heptaphylla, Glycosmis pentaphylla, Hemigraphis hirta, Limonia acidissima etc. A lot of research has been done in our neighboring countries on this topic. Recently, in India, scientists have identified larval host plants of 120 butterfly species, along with their host specificity, life form, biotope, abundance, and perennation. They have recorded 126 larval host plants, most them trees (49), few herbs (43), shrubs (22), climbers (7) and stem parasites (2) so far. Those include 89 wild, 23 cultivated, 11 wild/cultivated and 3 exotic plant species; 78 are perennials, 43 annuals, and 5 biennials. Plants belonging to the Families: Poaceae and Fabaceae are most widely used by Butterfly larvae. In addition to that, distinctions have been identified in host plant family affiliation and a number of significant differences have been identified, in their host use patterns, life forms, biotopes, landforms, perennation, host specificity, egg batch size and plant association. From this research outcome, we can assume a lot about the larval host plants in Bangladesh.
How can we conserve Butterfly larval host plants in Bangladesh?
Here are some necessary steps for achieving the esteemed target:
– Identifying and protecting larval host plants of Lawachara and Satchari National Parks as well as in other important natural reserves.
– Growing awareness among the mass people about the larval host plants and their significance.
– It is for our concern, the Department of Zoology of Jahangirnagar University has taken necessary initiatives to protect butterflies, and their
larval host plants on its campus. It has established a butterfly park and organizes annual butterfly fair for the propagation of knowledge and mass- awareness. Other educational institutions could follow the instance and take such initiatives.
– The Government should come forward with cooperation and funds for research and preservation of butterfly host plants throughout the country.
– Conservation in Dhaka city: It is very essential to find such larval host plants at the Mirpur Botanical Garden, Ramna Park, Baladha Garden and other gardens and parks. The authority should take necessary initiatives in planting and preserving such plants along with the existing ones.
– Late Prof. Dwijen Sharma had pioneered a movement for increasing the greenery of Dhaka city along with roof-top gardening. So, initiatives should be taken to continue the pursuit, including the Butterfly & larval host plants.
– Butterfly park, roof-top and corridor gardening should be encouraged and government should provide necessary saplings and funds, in this concern, to trained people under the supervision of experts.
– Construction of multi-storied buildings should include a Butterfly garden at their roof tops or balconies.
– Butterfly gardening should be encouraged throughout the country under the direct guidance and supervision of experts and the concerned government authorities.
It is designed to create an environment that attractsbutterflies, as well as certainmoths. Why butterfly garden? The simple answer is, the butterfly is a beautiful creation of Nature and Butterfly gardening is aimed to inviting butterflies and moths to lay eggs at a safe and secure place with all its their natural phenomena. As they do not feed upon all plants, the adult and the caterpillar should be placed on particular host plants, for an increase in the population of butterflies. The adults typically feed on the nectar of flowers, and there are hundreds of suchplants, which may be planted to attract them, depending on the location, duration in the year, and other factors. In addition to planting of flowers that feed butterflies, other means of attracting them include -the construction of "butterfly houses", providing sand, water, and other natural resources or food for them, including rotten fruit. If anyone wants to have an ideal butterfly garden, he/she should start with caterpillars. The Butterfly caterpillars have a very different look and should feed properly on a larval host plant. Our government should take necessary initiatives to encourage such gardening and encouraging experts in this concern.
If we don’t take necessary initiatives to protect and conserve this beautiful creature, we have to suffer a lot in the long run. Many butterfly species come under direct protection. Many rare species are not protected officially by the government, and may be taken under onsideration following the study of their status. We should consider this as an urgent matter. Knowledge about the larval host plants, their resources and development, and the necessity to prepare a databank of species, will take us at least to a part of the way in formulating effective conservation programs for them. We are not only destroying plants, but also destroying habitats of many animals including butterflies. So, it is high time to take the issue into deep concern and consideration, to protect the larval host plants of butterflies, a way to conserve this beautiful creature – a marvelous gift of Mother Nature.
1. Butterflies of Bangladesh: A Pictorial Handbook, 2011 by Prof. Shafique Haider Chowdhury , Dr. Monwar Hossain
2. Butterfly Larval Host Plant use in a Tropical Urban Context: Life History Associations, 2011, Herbivory and Landscape Factors, Ashish D. Tiple,Arun M. Khurad andRoger L. H. Dennis.
Aflatun Kaeser Zilany
Corporate Life Member, Nature Study Society of BD
Life Member, Notre Dame Nature Study Club
Contact number: +880 1688-136 193
Young Butterfly Enthusiast award youngest winner, 8th
Butterfly Fair-2017, Organized by – Dept. of Zoology,
Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka