It was no less than a treat for eyes for Arun Gour, an enthusiastic lepidopterist who spotted a rare day flying moth named as ‘Achelura bifasciata’ in Devalsari of Tehri district in Uttarakhand. This moth was spotted after 125 years it was last reported in the forest of Nainital.
Achelura bifasciata is usually found in the Himalayan belt and its presence in Uttarakhand has been mentioned in old records from Nainital, reported by G F Hampson- a Briton, in a moth book that he wrote in 1893.
“Hundreds of these moths have been flying during the day time near Chiana Khad, in a small, localised area in Devalsari of no more than a hundred square meters,” said an elated Gour who with his team manages Sridev Suman Titli Park, a butterfly park created by the Devalsari Society.
Sanjay Sondhi, a Dehradun-based naturalist confirmed the identity of this rare moth and said that the day flying moth can be seen flying in large numbers at treetops during the day, mimicking the Glassy Tiger butterfly.
“This group of day-flying moths is bitter tasting to predators such as birds hence they can fly freely during the day. Mass emergence of moths is not unusual, but to see this rare species in such large numbers is a once-in-a-lifetime moment” said Sondhi.
In fact, during the survey for the moths, Sanjay Sondhi along with Arun Gour, also spotted the Tawny Rajah butterfly - the large orange coloured butterfly which is rarely seen.
Interestingly, many moths and butterflies are the same. However, there are a couple of striking differences between the both- butterflies typically have larger and colorful patterns on their wings whereas moths have drab colored and smaller wings.
Secondly, butterflies fly during day time while various types of moths fly during night time. Though some species like ‘Achelura bifasciata’ fly during day time like butterflies.