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19 Sep 2020, Edition - 1894, Saturday

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Coimbatore

Green move to develop butterfly home gardens in Coimbatore

Umaima Shafiq

Butterflies are a very important part of any healthy ecosystem for pollination, greenery and climate stability. With this in mind, the Centre for Urban Biodiversity Conservation and Education (CUBE) in Coimbatore is conducting a training programme to create domestic butterfly gardens or an environment to attract butterflies naturally to urban homes. This is in collaboration with Tamil Nadu Forest Department and ARC corporate company.

A CUBE researcher, on condition of anonymity told The Covai Post, “There is no biodiversity left in Coimbatore city, it is like a concrete jungle. We hardly see butterflies anymore because their habitat is missing in the congestion of city life. So we plan to show how to create a space to attract butterflies in small spaces in villas, car parks, roof gardens, balconies among others.”

The one-day training programme beginning mid-August will be conducted by scientists and environmental experts. Participants will have a theory and demonstration class and refreshments. They will also be gifted 10 host plants each.

“After a month we will inspect these home gardens and give them a certificate. CUBE is the first to promote such an initiative. Our programme director is Uma Sekar. We plan to conduct the training every one or two months. Registration is going on,” said the researcher.

Separately, Allan Carlton, an environmental science professor and butterfly researcher at Bishop Hebber College in Tiruchi, said, “It is difficult to set up such gardens inside flats or apartments unless there are balconies or any low level garden area and open grounds. The easiest host plants can be curry leaves and calotropis which can easily attract tiger butterflies, like white, blue and striped ones and mormons among others.

“If you have lime plants, lime butterflies will come. Butterflies do not require much water, the sap from fruit and vegetable waste is enough. Some nectar plants like dixora, sunflower and other flowering plants should be there for pollination. Rotten food will attract butterflies, while curry leaf plants provide space to lay eggs. Butterflies are not specific about nectar and visit several host plants, often repeatedly. Their life span is usually 60 days, by then their larvae will develop into full-fledged butterflies and the cycle will continue.”

A butterfly expert with Coimbatore Forest Department said, “Butterflies have poor sight but their antennas are sensitive and they will home in on choice smells. I think the CUBE initiative is good, though limited species will visit. All species of butterflies may not come, but common ones like fly tiger, common mormon and cerulean butterflies may come.”

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