30th January, 2023 Environment
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Context: 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 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.
- 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.
- Butterflies are considered vital indicators of the state of biodiversity and key ecosystem functions.
- 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.