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Butterfly tour in Nepal

643 species of butterfly found in nepal

The great wealth of butterfly diversity in Nepal becomes apparent from its great bioclimatic variation from tropical and subtropical zone to the Tundra and the Arctic zone along the attitudinal gradation of the mountains. Over 77 per cent of Nepal's 147,181 sq. km area is mountainous and forest land is estimated to stand at 37.6 per cent.

The interface between the two major zoo-geographic realm i.e. the Palaearctic and the Oriental is very profound in the fauna of Nepal. The Palaearctic realm extending to Nepal on the north of the main Himalayan range and the oriental realm extending to the Terai and foothills of the Himalaya merge into a complex system of mixed high mountains. This has prompted many authors to divide Nepal into three zoo-geographic zones - Indian, Himalayan and Palaearctic. As such endemism in insect fauna is very much pronounced and warrants special attention for studies and research.

The need to investigate into the butterfly fauna of Nepal largely remains unfulfilled. Therefore, an attempt is being made here to consolidate information on the species diversity of butterflies recorded in Nepal.

Butterflies are closely affiliated with the lives of human beings both as foes and friends. Like any other biological species some are rare while others are common and abundant. A number of them face serious threats even within protected areas. Therefore, it is urgent to pay proper attention towards generating proper knowledge and information to enable the government and people of Nepal to protect Nepalese butterflies.

The history of bu exploration in Nepal is fairly recent and cannot be traced far too long before the advent of democracy in 1951 when the country was opened to foreigners. Earlier to that it was only the Indian Expedition of 1947;48 in the Koshi Catchment and the British expedition of 1924 that could collectbutterflies fauna for taxonomic treatment. Some British diplomats like Major General Hardwicke, however, could afford to collect butterflies from Nepal.

Of the several collecting expeditions in Nepal special mention should be made of the German Scientific Expedition of Khumbu region during the year from 1960 to 1965 organized by Prof. Walter Hellmich. Thereafter, Prof. Jochen Martens also from Germany paid several visits in Nepal along with his associates (1969Ä70,1973,1974,1980,1983 and 1995) and collected many soil dwelling arthropods, pollinators of the nettle-trap flowers, other arthropods and a number of vertebrates. Altogether 150 publications were made out of it by 62 scientists of 16 different countries all over the world. There were many other research teams as well as personal enthusiasts whose contributions would always make us obliged.

Most of the taxonomic work has been carried out on butterflies (Lepidoptera), dragon and damsel flies (Odonata), beetles (Coleoptera), true flies (Diptera), and quite a few on other groups. The Germans have mostly confined their studies on beetles and moths, Japanese on butterflies, moths, true flies and dragonflies, and the Britishers on butterflies, true flies and other insects. The Japanese have published "Fauna and flora of Nepal" (pp. 317) in 1955 edited by H. Kihara from the collection made during expeditions in 1952-53. The Germans have published "Khumbu Himal", a journal since 1966 comprising a number of articles on insects. Prof. J. Martens (1987) of Germany edited "Beitrage zur Fauna Faunengenese und Zoogeographie des Nepal Ä Himalaya Arthropoda" comprising 20 articles on arthropods of Nepal. A summary of the collection are present as follows:

Insect Order Number of Species reported from Nepal Number of Genera described from Nepal collection Number of species described from Nepal collection
Protura 4 - 3
Collembola (Springtails and Snow fleas) 125 2 56
Thysanoptera (Thrips) 25 - 6
Plecoptera (Stoneflies) 4 - 3
Mallophaga (Biting Lice) 10 - -
Psvoptera (Book lice and allies) 31 - 15
Ephemeroptera (May flies and allies) 26 - 12
Neuroptera (Alder flies and allies) 29 1 21
Isoptera (White Ants or Termites) 5 - -
Trichoptera (Caddis Flies and allies) 2 - 2
Siphunculata 1 - -
Siphonoptera (Fleas) 37 1 13
Phasmida (Stick and Leaf Insects) 2 - -
Dermaptera (Earwigs) 49 - 13
Orthoptera (Crickets and Grasshoppers) 31 1 9
Dchoptera (Cockroaches and Mantids) 8 1 2
Orthoptera (Dragon and Damsel flies) 147 1 2
Lepidoptera (Butterflies 656 1 11
and Moths) 789 8 11
Hemiptera (Bugs) 499 16 120
Hymenoptera (Bees and Wasps) 174 - 13
Coleoptera (Beetles) approx. 1,489 23 630
Diptera (True Flies) 909 6

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