By P.R. Shashank
Butterflies are charismatic, so they are one of the most attractive and loved species on earth. The two-winged wonders are part of our natural heritage for centuries. Butterflies are indicators of a healthy environment and ecosystem. They are known for their aesthetic value, for example in some cultures, butterflies are often portrayed as symbols of souls, freedom, love, and peace. They are important pollinators of plants. Also, the flagship group for insect biology and conservation.
Like any other animal, butterflies are also under immense pressure due to rapid urbanization, habitat loss, deforestation, exposure to herbicides and insecticides, and change in suitable abiotic environmental conditions. There are many scientific pieces of evidence showing that the population of butterflies is declining and if we don't give emphasis on education and conservation about these natural worders appropriate many species may go extinct.
Educating the common public is an essential component for the effective conservation of any species. There are many community-led education and conservation activities undertaken by different governments, non-government organizations, butterfly enthusiasts, researchers, and experts all over India. Around 50 experts from these groups come up with National Butterfly Campaign, another important event is going to happen to chose our National Butterfly. These experts spent weeks to shortlist around 50 butterflies, in the beginning, keeping its charismatic nature, rarity, uncommon distribution and other few criteria. In the final stage, the Consortium members shortlisted the final 𝘀𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 species. The seven species that made it are the Fivebar Sword-Tail, Indian Jezebel, Indian Nawab, Krishna Peacock, Orange Oakleaf, Northern Jungle Queen, and Yellow Gorgon.
The organizers believe that the opinion of citizens in the selection process will bring them closer to butterflies. This is a unique exercise in which citizens can get involved in voting for their favorite butterflies.
Kindly cast your vote on the poll page (https://forms.gle/kLrXD5AouN4VeSUC9) to choose the National Butterfly, and share the link with your friends and family so that they can vote, too. Please vote only once. The poll will start on 11th September and conclude on 8th October 2020, at the end of the Wildlife Week.
For more information please check https://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/national-butterfly-poll
Dr. P.R. Shashank is a Scientist at the Division of Entomology, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi. He is specialized in Insect Systematics (Lepidoptera) and invasive pests.