A Guide to butterfly watching


Watching how butterflies and caterpillars behave in the field can be interesting and exciting. You can get a really good look at them if they are busy feeding or drinking. For this a flower garden is one of the best places to start. Approach the butterfly quietly and be careful not to make any sudden movements. Watch out for caterpillars, you have to be extra careful to locate them because they resemble leaves, twigs or even bird droppings.


Essential equipment needed for butterfly watching


Proper Clothing: It is better to wear dull coloured clothes so that it keeps you camouflaged with the surrounding. Better to keep a cap or hat for protection from sun.


Camera: You can take a quick shot of the butterfly, the plant on which you found it and the habitat. This is a quick, easy and valuable tool and the images can be used subsequently for species identification, documenting natural history and ecological data.


Binoculars: Useful if want to watch butterflies at a distance or in flight.


Cases: Where a butterfly can be caught temporarily so that you can get a close look on both sides of the wings, before releasing it.


Paper Gloves: Some caterpillars can give nasty rash from the prickly hairs. So use gloves if you want to examine caterpillars.


Field Notebook and Pencil: This is a very important tool to collect data and note down different field observations. It is helpful to record field sketches of butterflies in case you miss the opportunity to photograph it. Later this information not only helps to identify the butterfly but also gives much information about other activities.


Light weight backpacks: It is always advisable to keep a light back pack so that water bottles, foldable umbrella etc. can be kept.


Tips for Butterfly Identification: Butterfly may not give enough time so that it can be identified in the field. So it is better to take photos first as a record and then enjoy the beauty of it and other things.

Just a rough diagram of butterfly and the colour, spots and patterns in different region of the wings also makes you a serious butterfly watcher. Earlier, before the invention of cameras, the taxonomists or the butterfly experts used sketches to draw the colour pattern of butterflies.


Activities for Students

Apart from study, students of different groups can keep their time busy enjoying nature and by learning the varied intricacies of nature. It gives immense pleasure and simultaneously helps in making a career in the field of life science. Studying life history, animal plant interaction and even knowing detailed natural history of species can also save many species from extinction.


School students can take small initiative in identifying the butterfly species seen in their school or home garden. This documentation across the season can let you know the change in butterfly diversity and also helps in answering questions like why a particular place has so many butterflies and other has very little.


College or under graduation students can take up activities on butterfly and host plant association in their locality. Even study on activity pattern of butterflies, predation, mimicry and life cycle of butterfly can lead to bigger discoveries in science.


Students of Science post-graduation level or above can take up assignments on knowing much detail about taxonomy and ecology of the species by using modern tools and techniques. Even Physics, Chemistry, Biotechnology and Mathematics can also be applied to know flight mechanisms, different chemical substances released by caterpillars and butterflies, and to do statistical analysis for solving robust data on diversity and distribution of the species.


Happy Butterflying


Source: https://issuu.com/pratyushmohapatra/docs/butterflies_of_bonai__odisha