Patterns of Seasonality in the flight and early stages of some south Indian butterfly Species
Bodapati Samatha, Matala Bhupathi Rayalu
Based on a field study of monitoring the adults in flight, and the early stages on the larval host plants in their natural habitat on the Andhra University campus at Visakhapatnam (170 42’N - 830 20’E), the flight and reproductive periods of eleven butterfly species are presented. The climate is of tropical monsoon type with summer (March-May), rainy or southwest monsoon (June-September), northeast monsoon (October–November) and winter (December-February) seasons. Five species Elymnias hypermnestra, Ariadne merione, Junonia hierta, Lampides boeticus and Leptosia nina had their adults in flight throughout the year, and the others Melanitis leda, Mycalesis subtida, Hypolimnas bolina, H. misippus, Talicada nyseus and Pareronia valeria during specific periods of the year: September-March, July-May, July-March, July-February, January-May, and November-March respectively. Seasonal peaks of abundance were evident with all the species excepting P. valeria whose population was small. Only A. merione and T. nyseus reproduced throughout the flight period as evidenced by the occurrence and distribution of early stages. Others had some reproductively inactive flight period or sexual diapause, which varied in length from 1- 8 months depending on the species. The periods of higher frequency of adults corresponded well with the periods of higher reproduction of respective species. Such peaks occurred during SW monsoon for A. merione, mid SW (August-September) - NE monsoon for H. bolina, H. misippus, L. boeticus and J. hierta, NE monsoon for M. leda and M. subtida, winter-summer for E. hypermnestra and T. nyseus, and winter for L. nina. Thus there was no uniform picture of seasonality for all the eleven butterfly species of the study. Each of the eleven butterfly species might have evolved its own lifestyle vis-à-vis, seasonal pattern in flight and reproduction in response to a certain combination of the prevailing environmental factors in a region.