Mumbai has butterflies?
This has to be the most common question , dressed with an inordinate amount of astonishment, that I get when I talk about the most colourful visitors (or should I say, residents) in my garden. Oh yes, Mumbai has butterflies aplenty. I guess we just have to stand still long enough to spot them. Easier said than done, maybe, given the frantic pace of life in this busy city . But give it a flower for nectar and a plant to lay eggs on and the Mumbai butterfly happily adapts to living life in the fast lane!
The Tawny Coster has to be one of the most eye-catching butterflies that flit around Mumbai. That orange - black combination really dazzles, doesn't it?
I found this proud new mom busy at work...
... there were eggs to lay and she had to find the perfect spot for her babies. Somewhere out of harm's way and where they would have plenty to chomp on once they hatch.
And guess what? The Tawny Costers seem to have a passion for my passion-fruit plants!
Here she is ! Hmmm ... maybe she should've had a "Do not disturb" sign hanging close by but it didnt look like an explosion would've disturbed her. She had a job to do and that's all she cared about!
This Centratherum intermedium (Brazilian Button Flower) has to be one of the most attractive plants for the butterflies. I have a bed full of them and the air above them is never still. There's always a butterfly or two, like this Blue Tiger, flitting by for a quick sip of nectar.
Okay, this is not a butterfly, I know. But I was horrified by this Robber Fly who had kidnapped this bee with no good intentions, I'm afraid.
This dragonfly, on the other hand, knows how welcome he and his friends are in my garden. Any creature which has mosquitoes on its dinner menu will find the red carpet rolled out for them in my garden!
I nearly stomped on this one more than a couple of times. He was so well camouflaged that I would spot him only when he flew up in the air right under my nose! I guess a set of enormous eyes like that would've helped me see him better.
Lantanas will always bring them flocking in. I have a wild lantana bush right bang in the centre of what is officially my vegetable patch. I've been advised over and over again by everyone who sees it to get rid of the jungli (wild) plant so I can have a bigger vegetable patch. But I'm so thrilled about the number of butterflies who visit it for nectar and the birds who love its berries that I would rather eat fewer vegetables (no great sacrifice, say my kids).
The Great Eggfly is one of the lantana lovers. By the way, I wonder who named him? I much prefer his other name ... Blue Moon Butterfly.
Now do you see how he came by both his names? This photo was taken last year in my dying vegetable patch. The plants were almost spent and ready for a re-haul and I was only too happy to see the butterflies make use of them.
A couple of days ago I found a female Great Eggfly flitting among the weeds that crop up every monsoon. She was in an egg-laying mood too.
Come and see her babies-in-waiting! Look, but don't touch. Mama butterfly has been really clever... she chose a stinging nettle to take care of her eggs !
Here she is, hopping over to another nettle to host another clutch of eggs.
Hmmm.... now how do I clear all those weeds, especially when I know all those butterfly eggs are hiding under them? A baby killer I'm not!
By the way, I love that flash of blue that shows up on her wings when the light hits it just so .
Vinca rosea (Madagascar periwinkle) is another butterfly favourite. Luckily for me it also loves our hot summer and comes to my rescue ever year when my garden is too sapped of energy to bloom. Vinca, though, will be in full bloom, adding colour and luring butterflies and giving me something worth looking at in my garden.
No wonder the butterflies love it so. It definitely isn't a fair weather friend !
These are just a few of the butterflies that are such a vital part of my garden. If you'd like to see more of them, go over to my other posts here , here and here.