Achelura bifasciata, a rare day-flying moth, was spotted last week in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal Himalayas.
Experts said that the moth was last spotted in the Kumaon region in the 1890s following which the sighting occurred last week in Tehri Garhwal district’s Sreedev Suman Titli Park, a habitat for butterfly created by local residents.
Sanjay Sondhi, the co-author of “Butterflies of Uttarakhand — A Field Guide” and a trustee of Titli Trust, a nature conservation organisation, said that the moth was never reported to have been spotted in Garhwal.
“There are old records of the insect to have been spotted in Nainital by GF Hampson, a Britisher, who had compiled a book on moths in 1893. However, this is the first time the moth has been sighted and that, too, in such large numbers in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand. The moths are bitter in taste for predatory birds. As a result, the insects are free to fly around during the day,” said Sondhi.
The experts also spotted a rare butterfly called Tawny Rajah. This large orange coloured butterfly is rarely seen in the Garhwal Himalayas and there have been a handful of published records in Uttarakhand in the last few decades.
Arun Gaur, director, Devalsari Paryavaran Sanrakshan Samiti, who was one of the first few persons to have spotted the moth , said, “A different kind of moth in large numbers was seen hovering in and around the park for the past 15 days. We did not know that it was a rare moth. But, we had never seen the insect before and that’s why we decided to seek the experts’ opinion.”
Sondhi, too, weighed in on spotting the moth.
“The moth is found in the north-eastern parts of the country. However, it has been spotted in Uttarakhand after almost over a century. This has been possible due to the efforts of the local community, who has worked tirelessly to conserve many such small species to whom no one pays attention to on a daily basis,” he added.