Butterflies have Thane enthusiasts on their toes

Hindustan Times | ByAnkita G Menon, Thane
Sep 30, 2018 12:37 AM IST

Thane’s rich green cover attracts various species of butterflies; groups plan weekend treks and nature trails

When 21-year-old Nishant Naik embarked on his first butterfly trek, he couldn’t identify the different species of butterflies.

Around 30 species of butterflies can be spotted at Dattaji Salvi Garden at Kopri.(Praful Gangurde/HT)
Around 30 species of butterflies can be spotted at Dattaji Salvi Garden at Kopri.(Praful Gangurde/HT)

By the end of the trek, he was curious to know more about butterflies. Naik’s interest in butterflies prompted him to join the small group of butterfly enthusiasts.

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The group — comprising members from 20 to 60 year old — meets every weekend at a butterfly park or garden, take photos and discuss all about butterflies.

Starting October, the weekend mornings for enthusiasts are occupied.

“I learned a lot after joining the group and exploring other places. In the city gardens and farms, we only find the common species of butterflies. Visiting forests is a must to know more about butterflies,” added Naik.

Shyamal Kumar Laha, 66, travels from Ghatkopar to Thane most weekends to spot butterflies. He has travelled across the country to spot butterflies but his favourite place in Thane.

A blue mormon spotted at Dattaji Salvi Garden in Kopri. (Praful Gangurde/HT)
A blue mormon spotted at Dattaji Salvi Garden in Kopri. (Praful Gangurde/HT)

“One can spot a variety of butterflies at Dattaji Salvi Garden in Kopri and Nagla forest. I have been interested in butterflies since my childhood but I took it up seriously was only after I retired that,” said Laha.

Recently, he was in Arunachal Pradesh for a butterfly trail and sessions for youngsters.

“It is fun to come with like-minded enthusiasts on a trail every week. We share our knowledge thus making the trails interesting,” said Laha, recalling that there used to be a small garden on Thane College campus where one could spot many butterflies.

Owalekar Wadi on Ghodbunder Road is famous for spotting butterflies. It teems with visitors every weekend.

Owned by butterfly enthusiast Rajendra Owalekar, the butterfly garden has around 100 species of butterfly. Owalekar is also a part of the group.

“Every weekend, we pick a spot in Thane and inform the others in our group. We all come together to explore about the various species of butterfly within Thane and we also study their habitat. We also help young enthusiasts know more about nectar plants in the commonly found spots,” said Owalekar.

Thane, with its many gardens and good expanse of green cover, attracts a lot of butterflies.

Yuwaraj Gurjar, a butterfly expert, claims to have spotted 50 species in two hours at Nagla one day. “The abundant forest cover in Thane helps us spot a variety of butterflies. As butterflies are cold blooded they bask in the sunlight to warm up before flying. The ideal time to spot butterflies is around 7am to 9am,” he said.

Gurjar has downloaded an app that gives all information about butterflies. “Thane residents are lucky to have butterfly sightings in the heart of the city,” he said.

Owalekar Wadi

Butterfly garden at Ovalekar Wadi in Thane. (Praful Gangurde/HT)
Butterfly garden at Ovalekar Wadi in Thane. (Praful Gangurde/HT)

The 2-acre butterfly farm on Ghodbunder road is famous for butterfly sightings. Started in 1996, this used to be a paddy field of the Owalekar family. Around 100 species of butterfly have been spotted at the Owalekar Wadi which is open only on Sundays from 8.30am to 12.30pm. However, educational tours for schools are often conducted on Thursdays. The Blue Mormon is a common sight here. “This is the appropriate season to spot the Blue Mormon. From September till December due to heavy rains in the hilly areas, the butterfly breeds more at the ground level,” added Owalekar.

Spot butterflies in Thane

• Yeoor forest

An extension of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Yeoor has 120 species of butterflies. Blue Mormon, the blue oak leaf, the bright jezebel, tiger butterfly and common sailor have been spotted here.

• Nagla forest

Nagla comprises a good cover of mangrove vegetation as well as forests. It has more than 150 species of butterflies here. It is popular for the seasonal butterfly and also others such as Common Yellow Grass butterfly, Blue Tiger, Common Sailor Butterfly and Orange tip. The Atlas Moth is also is often spotted here.

Contact: To visit both the forests, prior permission is necessary from the Nature Information Centre at SGNP.

Before visiting contact 022-28847800 or mail to nicsgnp78@gmail.com or visit the SGNP website.

Gardens where butterfly can be spotted

• Dattaji Salvi Garden at Kopri

Located adjacent to the service road, the park is rich in fruit-bearing flowers. School students come here for their industrial visits here. It is a common spot for photographer, bird watchers and butterfly lovers. Depending on the season, around 30 species of butterfly are spotted here.

• Thane Biodiversity Park near Kasaravadavli in Ghodbunder Road

During the peak season, one can find around 30 to 35 species of butterfly. Compared to forests, there is a less space to spread out so they congregate within the garden making it easier to spot.

Best time to spot butterfly

• October and November

Number of species spotted in Thane

• 168

Species found in Thane

• Blue Mormon: Also known as Papilio polymnestor, blue mormon is the state butterfly of Maharashtra. It is a large swallowtail butterfly.

• Grass Jewel: Also known as Chilades trochylus, it is one of the tiniest butterfly, commonly found in Africa.

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