New Butterfly Species Flourishes in Kodagu Sanctuary

New Butterfly Species Flourishes in Kodagu Sanctuary

A recent scientific publication by researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) has unveiled the discovery of a novel butterfly species in Karnataka’s Bramhagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Kodagu.

Dubbed the Conjoined Silverline (Cigaritis conjuncta), this butterfly species made its initial appearance during an accidental encounter en route to Iruppu falls in Bramhagiri back in 2008. Subsequently, in March 2021, a team of researchers rediscovered the species. Dr. Krushnamegh Kunte, a co-author of the paper, mentioned that thorough examinations were conducted on collected samples. The findings were presented in the research paper titled “A new species of silverline butterfly, Cigaritis Donzel, 1847 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae), from the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, India.”

The research team, consisting of Dr. Kunte, Ashok Sengupta, Ujwala Pawari, and Viraj Nawgel, emphasized that Karnataka boasts approximately 300 native butterfly species, with some being accidental discoveries and others supported by historical evidence.

Despite its small size, comparable to a one-rupee coin, the Conjoined Silverline holds immense value for conservationists due to its endemic nature in the mid-elevation evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. The paper highlights that the species description is based on examinations of five male and four female specimens from Honey Valley, Kodagu district, Karnataka, situated within the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot.

Cigaritis conjuncta distinguishes itself from other similar species in India and Sri Lanka through specific characteristics, such as the male-dorsal forewing outer half, coastal margin, and nearly upper half of the cell being black without orange markings. Additionally, its dorsal hindwing tornus exhibits a pale orange and red coloration with two black spots. The ventral forewing bands at the end of the discal cell are conjoined, while the ventral hindwing subbasal and discal bands form broad bands with irregular outlines, leaving only a narrow background color in between.