Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Project on Early Stages of Moths on all India level: Volunteers Needed

Dear Insectlovers,

I did get few responses for my earlier mail. I would like to write more specifically this time so that even others can start giving thought.

Friends, as you would be knowing study in moths is much in its infancy even today. I am struggling hard to get moths identified as there are hardly any books available. Well some one has to take up this herculean task. As I mentioned its a Herculean task which means its not possible by a single person like me, so we need a team of dedicated people who can work from different places yet contribute to the main cause. I intend to develop the all India level data base on moth life histories for the same I would request members of this group to help me. If you are interested, this is what you can do:

  1. Explore the wilderness as well as garden areas around your hometown.
  2. Suspect each and every plant to have a caterpillar- that's how you stumble upon caterpillars. Look on the undersides of leaves, or look out for half eaten leaves or droppings fallen on the ground.
  3. Collect the caterpillars alongwith its foodplant. Details on rearing of the caterpillar will be provided.
  4. Collect life history data as per the data sheet which will be provided
  5. Key in the data into excel sheets
  6. Get the foodplant identified, one can either send a photograph or actual specimen.
  7. Get the moth identified either with the photograph or specimen (in most cases specimen would be needed) Details on mailing of specimens would be provided. Please note this would be only done if needed.
  8. Lastly Send your data to be part of the main data base here in Mumbai
If you want to do the above then what will you need?

  1. Knowledge on caterpillar rearing
  2. Time to carry out the activity
  3. Computer skills
  4. Self funding for your activity
If you do all of the above, what will you gain?
  1. First hand information on moths
  2. Learning scientific approaches for such studies
  3. Replication of such work is possible if you intend to take up further ecological studies
  4. You would get acknowledgement in scientific publication that uses the data
  5. If you are keen I could help you further to work on a specific group.
If this appeals you then please write to me at I will be providing all necessary training that is needed for the project.

Waiting for your responses. Give your commitment before the moth month ends- that's a good omen ;-))


Friday, June 17, 2005

Flitting Thoughts

[ FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2005 12:36:11 AM ]

When was the last time you saw a butterfly in your garden, asked a news report recently, referring to India’s dwindling butterfly population. Hey, when was the last time you met someone with a garden to speak of? As a flat-dweller — as most metro residents are — how can one answer this question? At the breakfast table one day, I broached the subject of endangered butterflies when my daughter dropped her buttered toast and looked intently at the butter-dish. "What are you doing", I asked her. "I’m looking for the fly you spotted in the butter", she said, holding her sides, laughing. No, she wasn’t being insensitive, she said sincerely — it was a statement on butterfly-starved city life. Like many of her friends, she, too, had grown up in a home without a garden, not counting the few potted plants that line the verandah. I felt a twinge of sadness. Growing up in a home with a garden is like growing up in an enchanting world. There’s always something to see or do. One can spend hours following the silvery trail of a missing snail. Or just feel happy counting or watching butterflies, a suitable warm-up exercise to introspection. A symbol of metamorphosis, the butterfly is often associated with spiritual transformation.

Dwindling butterfly numbers is being attributed to increase in smuggling, habitat loss and pesticide usage. The repercussions of this would be felt in agriculture, since the butterfly is the second-largest pollinator in the world after the honeybee. Private collectors sell butterflies abroad as decoration art and to labs engaged in species research. I cannot imagine why anyone would want a dead butterfly as a pin-up. The thought is as revolting as hanging a carcass on your wall. More gardens and less use of pesticides might reverse butterfly mortality rates. For a flat-dweller in the city, the balcony is the only place where she can create the semblance of a garden, with potted plants. But in most homes balcony-space is the preserve of coolers, shoe racks, old newspapers, storage cartons and clotheslines. My own verandah is spilling over with thousands of paper-cuttings, magazines and old books that I intend reading some day. Perhaps community gardens would be the answer.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Pench dam : Butterfly Park

Kamath Hotels plans eco-resort near Nagpur

Kamath Hotels India Ltd has drawn up an ambitious plan to invest Rs 50 crore in constructing an eco-tourism resort near the Pench dam, around 55 kms from here.

Plans include setting up a bird sanctuary and a butterfly park — the first of its kind in the country. An “underwater walk” for tourists is also on the anvil wherein tourists would be encouraged to use special underwater gear to take a walk on the bed of the lake. Trips would be organised to forests in nearby Madhya Pradesh.

Compleat story