Flight of a Swordtail
The Indo-Chinese fivebar swordtail butterfly’s presence in the Chotanagpur pregion of West Bengal points to a balanced ecology in the area, argues wildlife enthusiasts from the area.
Indo-Chinese five-bar Swordtail, Graphium antiphates pompilius (Fabricius, 1787), is restricted to low elevation. It is a papilinoid butterfly with very swift flight, often flying rather high, so that it often looks more like a pierid than a swallowtail. The males of the species are rather attracted to wet mud and both sexes are fond of flowers
The distribution of the subspecies pompilius is restricted to North-east India like Buxa or Assam. It is quite astonishing that it is also found in areas of Chotanagpur plateau like Ajodhya Hill or Garhpanchakot Hill.
It was 8th of June, 2018, when I, along with Supriya Samanta, Saptarshi Goswami & Abhijit Satpati, visited the ruins of Garhpanchakot fort, in Purulia district of West Bengal. The day was hot and humid. The butterfly came to us and then reached the upper leaves of a nearby River Tamarind (Leucaena leucocephala) tree. Our intial reaction was that the butterfly was laying eggs. We soon realized it was marking its territory, as the River Tamarind is not the host plant of Five-bar Swordtail. The host plants of this particular species incude Desmos chinensis, Miliusa sp, Magnolia doltsopa etc.
The butterfly was previously recorded at Ajodhya hills of Purulia district by Supriya Samanta on 3rd August, 2017. Finding of this type of rare butterfly in Chotanagpur region of West Bengal clearly indicates a strong ecology of this particular region.
This is an joint article by Diptesh Goswami & Saptarshi Mukherjee
Diptesh Goswami- A zoology student of Garhpanchakot College, Purulia, and a butterfly lover, Diptesh is an active member of Green Plateau.
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