“Fluttering Wonders: Rare Dusted Apollo Butterfly Spotted for the First Time in Himachal Pradesh”
In a momentous discovery, the elusive Dusted Apollo butterfly (Parnassius stenosemus) has graced Himachal Pradesh, captivating the hearts of butterfly enthusiasts and underscoring the flourishing diversity of Apollo butterflies in the region. This rare high-altitude butterfly, sighted and photographed for the first time in September 2023 during a trek to Manimahesh Lake in Chamba, brings a wave of joy to those who appreciate the beauty of these delicate creatures.
The sighting was made possible by the keen eyes of Gajinder Verma and Abinash Thakur, forest guards of Chamba Forest Circle, Himachal Pradesh Forest Department. The Dusted Apollo, discovered in 1890, had never been photographed before in the state, making this encounter truly special.
Lovish Garlani, a butterfly expert and researcher associated with the State Forest Department, highlighted the distinctive features of the Dusted Apollo. Its resemblance to the Ladakh Banded Apollo (Parnnasius stoliczkanus) is uncanny, but the complete discal band on the upper forewing distinguishes the Dusted Apollo. Additionally, the narrower dark marginal band on the hind wings sets it apart.
The discovery isn’t limited to the Dusted Apollo alone. Another rare species, the Regal Apollo (Parnnasius charltonius), also made a majestic appearance at Manimahesh. Classified under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, this finding adds to the encouraging indication of a diverse and thriving Apollo butterfly population in the region.
However, the excitement is tempered by concerns over the vulnerability of these species. Apollos, considered commercially important, face threats from the poaching industry. Out of the 11 Apollo species recorded in Himachal Pradesh, five are declared as Scheduled species, heightening the urgency for conservation efforts.
Expressing his concern over the declining trend of butterfly numbers, Garlani emphasized the need for immediate action. Community awareness about poaching and the significance of these species could play a pivotal role in their conservation. He further advocated for the establishment of butterfly parks and conservation reserves in the state, urging the government to prioritize these initiatives.
As the delicate wings of the Dusted Apollo grace the landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, it serves as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between human activities and the preservation of nature’s wonders.**