Within six months, a 5,000 sqft garden created for butterflies at a college campus has become home to 20 species.
The garden, located inside the 65-acre Somaiya campus at Vidyavihar, is created for the students of The Somaiya School, who learn about the insects as part of their curriculum.
The school’s authorities hope that the garden will enrich the students’ interest in nature.
“Our campus is an environment where students interact with nature and science beyond text books. Our attempt is to have children interact with nature so that they learn to appreciate it,” , said Samir Somaiya, president, Somaiya Vidyavihar.
This is Mumbai’s fourth butterfly haven after the Ovalekar garden at Thane, Maharashtra Nature Park at Mahim and the one at the Borivli-end of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The garden houses butterflies such as the Blue Pansy, Common Lime Butterfly, Tailed Jay, Red Pierrot, GramBlue and the Common Mormon.
It was created with expertise from the Somaiya Centre of Experiential Learning. The project started in April and in June, food and nectar-producing plants such as Passion Flower (Krishna Kamal), Pithecellobium dulce (Vilaiti Chinch), Ficus racemosa (Umber), Lantana Red-Yellow (Haldi Kumkum), Vinca rosa (Sadaphuli) and Lantana Yellow were sowed.
“These plants were specifically selected because they act as hosts that butterflies select to lay their eggs. At the same time, caterpillars feed on these plants till they turn into pupae,” said Prashant Mahajan, director and learning catalyst, Somaiya Center of Experiential Learning.
Students have been studying the life cycle of butterflies. Mahajan added that when the first caterpillars were spotted at the garden, first grade students were taken to examine them through a magnifying lens. “The students witnessed the Common Lime Butterfly laying eggs,” he said.
Students from the other institutions in the campus also use the garden to understand insects and pollinators as a part of their curriculum. Other schools can also use the facility. “We are happy to share this initiative with schools who would like to bring their children to our school with prior planning,” said Mahajan.