NOBLE’S HELEN: ARUNACHAL YIELDS INDIA’S NEWEST BUTTERFLY

  • A swallowtail butterfly disappearing from its previously known ranges from Myanmar and southern China to Vietnam has been recorded for the first time in India.
  • Three butterfly enthusiasts — Atanu Bose, Loren Sonowal and Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi — recorded the “extremely rare” Noble’s Helen (Papilio noblei) from three locations in the Namdapha National Park of Arunachal Pradesh in the year to September 2021.
  • Their report was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies.
  • The Noble’s Helen, closest to Papilio antonio from the Philippines and characterised by a large dorsal white spot, was once common in the montane forest at moderate elevations in northern Thailand.
  • This species of swallowtail butterfly has also been reported from the Myanmar, Yunnan and Hubai regions of China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • “The species has not disappeared from Thailand but is now known to be very rare in the ranges it was previously recorded.
  • The recording of Noble’s Helen for the first time in India is encouraging for nature lovers,” Mr. Bose told The Hindu.
  • Butterflies are considered vital indicators of the state of biodiversity and key ecosystem functions.
  • The trio of Mr. Bose, Mr. Sonowal and Mr. Gogoi photographed Noble’s Helen live from 19th Mile, Lunkai Nala, and near Deban Camp within the 1,985-sq.km Namdapha, also India’s easternmost tiger reserve.
  • The locations are approximately 80 km aerially from Putao of Myanmar’s Kachin State, where this species of swallowtail butterfly was last recorded in April 1999.
  • Sonowal said Noble’s Helen with a wingspan of 100-120 mm was initially thought to be an aberration of Papilio helenus, though the former has an extra white spot in the dorsum of the forewing.
  • A closer study showed Papilio noblei sports a consistent white spot and has a complete row of red lunules on the underside of the hind wing and discal white areas on the upper side.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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