Butterflies of the myristica swamp forests of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in the southern Western Ghats, Kerala, India

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Prabhakaran Chandrika Sujitha
Gopal Prasad
Kalesh Sadasivan


Myristica swamps are unique freshwater swamp forests characterised by predominance of tree species of the Myristicaceae family.  There have been few published works on the flora and fauna of myristica swamps but studies on butterflies have been scanty. This work was done in the myristica swamps of Kattilapara in Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Kollam district, Kerala, located in the northern aspect of the Agasthyamalai Hills of the southern Western Ghats. Data on the butterflies were collected over a period of two years supplemented with data from previous visits using Transect method. Butterflies were identified based on field photographs and relevant literature. We recorded 206 species of butterflies belonging to 6 families from the myristica swamps. This included 17 species of Papilionidae, 20 species of Pieridae, 65 species of Nymphalidae, 56 species of Lycaenidae, two species of Riodinidae and 46 species of Hesperiidae.Of the total, 19 species of butterflies were Western Ghat endemics. A checklist of butterflies of the myristica swamp, larval hostplants, status with respect to IUCN criteria, endemicity, and classification as per Indian Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) of 1972 are also provided. Eighty-two species of plants were listed as butterfly larval hosts in the myristica swamp ecosystem, with 27 species being new host records for Western Ghats. None of the butterflies recorded were using plants of Myristicaceae family as larval hosts. A simple index—the percentage occurrence—is proposed to delineate the habitat affinity of species.

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