Butterfly gardens have become very popular recently in Kerala and many other States of India. The process of establishing Butterfly garden started off in Kerala with the efforts of Dr George Mathew, former Scientist of KFRI who initiated garden with the primary focus to attract butterflies. It is an open garden with larval and adult host plants maintained. The garden facilitates daily data collection on butterfly visits and various life stages of several species of butterflies. Currently research at the butterfly has initiated thermal ecology studies which identify the correlation of ambient temperature with butterfly activity. Close observation on butterfly behavior and insect photography are being done by professional and amateur enthusiasts at the garden.
Some of the butterflies that can generally be seen in the garden include lemon butterfly (Papilio demoleus), southern birdwing (Troides minos), common rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae), light blue tiger (Tirumala limniace), dark blue tiger (Tirumala septentrionis) and common crow (Euploea core). Plants that are raised in the garden for forage by butterflies include Clerodendrum paniculatum, Crotalaria pallida, Crotalaria retusa, Cuphea hyssopifolia, Gardenia sp., Gloriosa superba, Heliotropium keralense, Hibiscus spp., Impatiens sp., Ixora spp., Jasminum spp., Jatropa spp., Lantana spp. Plants such as Aristolochia indica, Thottea siliquosa, Tylophora indica, Asclepias sp., Carissa carandus, Ruta graveolens, Aegle marmelos, Cassia spp., Albizzia spp., Kalanchoe spp., Musaenda luteosa, Citrus spp. and Murraya koenigii are introduced as larval host plants to sustain various butterflies in the garden.
KFRI has facilitated the establishment of butterfly gardens in 82 institutions which include schools, government offices and commercial establishments. We also offer awareness classes for students and general public and is offering technical advice to elevate home gardens to butterfly gardens. KFRI continues to provide technical advice for establishing of small and big butterfly parks. For more information, contact: The Head. Forest Entomology Department.