All Aflutter: Who's Going to Win the National Butterfly Tag?

All Aflutter: Who's Going to Win the National Butterfly Tag?
A Peacock Butterfly on Red Zinnia blossom, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

With more than 1,300 species of butterflies found in the country, the race has narrowed down to three contenders

OT Staff
October 19 , 2020
04 Min Read

While everyone was locked up for the better part of the year, a group of butterfly experts and enthusiasts were charting the course towards picking a national butterfly for India. A tough task as there are more than 1,300 species found in the country.

The project started in August and takes its cue from countries like Bhutan, Malaysia, and Taiwan which have designated national butterflies and have built conservation projects around them.


Naturalists believe that like bees, butterflies are important indicators of the health of the environment. They are also important for nature conservation. They hope that this project will garner interest in ordinary citizens about the rich diversity of butterflies in India, and the need to conserve and protect butterfly habitats. 

It was the secretary of the National Butterfly Club, Divakar Thombre, who first conceived the idea a few years ago and created the National Butterfly Campaign Consortium (NBCC) which comprised entomologists, naturalists, citizen scientists, journalists and hobbyists, with representatives from states across the country. They outlined several criteria for choosing the species for the first list. These included beauty, ecological significance and abundance. The butterfly could not be too commonplace, it could not have multiple forms, or be harmful to crops, and it couldn’t be a species that was already designated as a state butterfly. 

A few species were ruled out based on this, like Tamil Nadu’s Tamil Yeoman, Maharashtra’s Blue Mormon, Uttarakhand’s Common Peacock, Karnataka’s Southern Bird Wing and Kerala’s the neon blue-green Malabar Banded Peacock.

ALSO READ: Use AI To Identify Butterflies, With Pathanga Suchaka

After much deliberation, internal polling and open public voting from September 11 to October 8 (which got more than 60,000 votes), the top three shortlisted species were the Krishna Peacock, Orange Oakleaf and the Indian Jezebel.

The Orange Oakleaf butterfly, also called the Dead Leaf butterfly due to its shape of a fallen dead leaf when its wings are closed, is a dazzling orange-and-black with a deep blue base.

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Butterfly SeriesðŸ¦Â‹ 🍃 Common Name:Orange Oakleaf Scientific Name:Kallima inachus . Post processing: @aakanksha_sawant . #butterflies#butterfilesofinstagram#shubhamalavephotography#wildlifeindia#storiesofindia#frogsofindia#earthofficial#lonelyplanetindia#butterflyfilter#maharashtra_ig#wildlifeofindia#photooftheday#picoftheday#followme#followforfollowback#wildlife#OrangeOakleaf#butterfliesofindia#butterfly_hdr#bbcearth#bbc#sonybbcearth#animals#animalplanet#sanctuaryasia#insectsofinstagram#instagram#natureinfocus#amboli#butterfly_ir @butterflymonthindia @butterflies_of_india @butterfliesindia @global.wilderness @sonybbcearth @animalplanetindia @instagram @maharashtra_ig @maharashtratravel @maharashtra_desha @maharashtra_majha @hrudaysparshi_maharashtra

A post shared by Shubham Alave | Wildlife (@shubham_alave) on Oct 9, 2020 at 8:40am PDT

The brightly-coloured Indian Jezebel has an eye-popping visage. The males have broad white upper sides and bold yellows and reds at the bottom while the females are white. Both have forewings with bold black veins making the colours stand out.Beautiful Indian Jezebel ButterflyThe Krishna Peacock, as the name suggests, has dazzling peacock blue discal patches and yellow tapering bands. Concentrated mostly in Northeast India, it is commonly found in the Himalayan region.

The matter now rests with the centre's environment ministry. They will pick one from these three and crown it with the title of India's national butterfly.

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