- The southern state of Tamil Nadu has recently declared Tamil Yeoman (Cirrochroa thais) as its state butterfly to symbolise its rich natural and cultural heritage, in a move aimed at boosting the conservation efforts of the attractive insects..
- Locally known as Tamil Maravanmeaning ‘Tamilian Warrior’, the canopy butterfly, usually sized between 60 and 75mm, belongs to the family of brush-footed butterflies or the Nymphalid.
- The winged wonder, with its natural zigzag patterns near its bright orange-coloured wings and its aesthetic dots, has always been a fascination for local nature enthusiasts.
- It was chosen for its cultural identity linking the state through its name and is abundance in hilly areas.
- Endemic to the biodiversity hotspot of Western Ghats, Tamil Yeoman is usually seen at the foothills and moist evergreen forests of the state’s mountainous regions.
- Known to have a straight flight with few wing beats and long glide, the butterfly is actively spotted in forest streams too.
Other state species
- This is the latest addition to Tamil Nadu’s existing symbols from the natural world – palmyra as the state tree, gloriosa lily as the state flower, emerald dove as the state bird, jackfruit as the state fruit and Nilgiri tahr as the state animal.
- With the latest policy initiative, it has become the fifth India state after Maharashtra (Blue Mormon), Uttarakhand (Common peacock), Karnataka (Southern birdwings) and Kerala (Malabar banded peacock) to bestow a state emblem status to one of its colourful insects.
Why state designation to butterflies?
- Butterflies are great bio-indicators of an ecosystem as they are highly sensitive to environmental conditions such as temperature, sunlight, humidity and rainfall patterns.
- Butterflies are not only great pollinators but also play a crucial role in the food chain.
- Their presence, patterns and migration assist in mapping the climatic health of a region and are they are perhaps the most studied insect group across the world.
- Tamil Nadu’s naturally elongated geographical placement combined with the presence of Eastern and the Western Ghats generate a variety of habitats with diverse ecological conditions allowing plenty of ‘butterfly hotspots’.
Source: The Wire