Under the shade of a leafy canopy tree, the Southern Birdwing slipped out of its pupae delicately attached to the host plant. After a wait that seemed to last for hours, the butterfly gained confidence and slowly, freed its beautiful red and yellow-colored wings, and took flight sending three German teachers squealing in delight at Sammilan Shetty’s Butterfly Park in Belvai, located 44 km from Mangaluru. The Southern Birdwing (Troides minos) — which is Karnataka’s State butterfly — is one of the largest butterflies in the country with a wingspan of 140-190 mm.
The teachers who are in India on an exchange programme later wrote in the visitor’s book on being “very lucky” to see the winged beauty’s “first flight of its life.”The extended monsoon has boosted our butterfly conservation efforts,” informs 34-year-old Sammilan Shetty, who quit his teaching job a few years ago to become a full-time conservationist. The private open park, spread over 7.35 acres of semi-forest land and located on the foothills of Western Ghats, in Belvai on NH 169, was launched in August 2013. As many as 151 species of butterflies have been recorded at the Park so far.
“The golden time to watch butterflies is between 8 am and 11 am,” informs Shetty while leading visitors on a 30-minute walk through the park. Once inside the park, visitors learn about the four stages of the butterfly’s cycle, interesting facts like the symbiotic relationship between ants and butterflies. Ants, though voracious eaters of larvae offer protection to the larvae of Lycaenidae, the second-largest family of butterflies, from predators and in turn receive honeydew secretion from larvae.
Tags: Sammilan Shetty | Butterfly Park | Sammilan Shetty’s Butterfly Park | Butterfly Enthusiast | Karnataka’s First Private Butterfly Park