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03 July 2015, NCBS: A tiny butterfly species new to science has been discovered in the verdant forests of the Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh. The discovery of this butterfly, christened the Banded Tit (Hypolycaena narada), was announced by Dr. Yogesh (IFS), the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Department of Forests & Environment, Government of Arunachal Pradesh. “This discovery underscores the unparalleled biodiversity of the state.” he remarked.

The Banded Tit is a denizen of low-lying evergreen forests of Changlang. It has an interesting life cycle. Adult butterflies live only for approximately two weeks in March every year, presumably spending a large part of the remaining year in a dormant state in larval or pupal stages, which are still unknown. The butterflies feed primarily on bird-droppings along cool streams in the forests. Even if the butterfly has now been described and named, much of its biology is still a mystery. For instance, its larval host plants, breeding behavior and precise habitat requirements are unknown, although such information may help ensure the long-term survival of this species in the rapidly changing, human-dominated landscape.

The Banded Tit was recently described in a research paper by Dr. Krushnamegh Kunte, a research scientist and faculty member at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru. It is a pleasant surprise to find new butterfly species in India, whose butterfly fauna is widely believed to be well-documented. However, Arunachal Pradesh is a land of surprises. A new butterfly species called the Bright-eyed Argus (Callerebia dibangensis) was discovered here by Purnendu Roy a few years ago. The discovery of the Banded Tit raises the possibility that many more species that are new to science still remain to be discovered in the remote mountain ranges and forests of north-eastern India.



Kunte, K. A new species of Hypolycaena (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) from Arunachal Pradesh, north-eastern India. The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera, 48:21-27. PDF file (3.8MB, has colour images of the types and other materials). See popular science coverage of this paper in The Hindu, The Telegraph, National Geographic Traveller India and Times of India, among many others.