The winters have arrived on the hillside of Landour, Mussoorie, and so, the butterflies. The caterpillars who survived the harshness of the extended monsoons have finally emerged from their chrysalis and metamorphosed into beautiful butterflies. Different species of butterflies can be seen around these days fluttering over the tender flowers and greens. Their bright coloured wings bring joy and wonder to the pristine surroundings.
While sitting in the garden, I could observe many butterflies busy collecting nectar and pollinating. Suddenly my eyes caught a glimpse of an Indian tortoise shell butterfly hovering over freshly bloomed marigold (Tagetus sp.) flowers. After hopping from one flower over the other it finally disappeared from my sight. I tried to capture it through my lens but couldn’t get any clear image.
Aglais caschmirensis or the Indian tortoiseshell, is a species of butterfly found mostly in the Himalayan region of India. Indian tortoise shell can survive in the subzero temperature can be the cause of either freeze avoidant or freeze-tolerant. For survival in low temperatures, Insects prevent the freezing oftheir internal organs and fluids by using cryoprotectants such as polyols andsugar molecules or antifreeze proteins which helps to bind small ice particles,therefore, preventing them from expanding (Ashina, 1970).
The species remains active from the beginning of summers(March) till the ending autumn (November). As the winter approaches with chilling cold and snow, the Indian tortoiseshell hibernates from December to the end of February in farmyard buildings, nearby house sheds, sheltered structures,garages or inside the tree hollows, log piles and even rock crevices. The life cycle of the Indian tortoiseshell gets completed in 31 to 44 days which comprises eggstage followed by 5 larval, pupal and adult stages depending upon the climatic conditions. The larvae of this butterfly species are monophagous and feed on Urtica dioica L., (Stinging Nettle). The Indian tortoiseshell butterfly remainsinactive during the months from December to February (Qureshi & Bhagat, 2015), when cold grips the entire Himalayan region during the winter (Riyaz and Sivasankaran, 2021)
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