A STUDY ON THE MUD PUDDLING ACTIVITY OF BUTTERFLIES IN ALAGARKOVIL HILLS, MADURAI, TAMIL NADU, INDIA
UTTAR PRADESH JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, Volume 43, Issue 2,
Butterflies are one of the most remarkable creatures of nature, which exhibits an interesting behavior called puddling. The term puddling is used to describe the supplementary feeding of minerals and salts from mud puddles, excrement and carrion. The mud puddling activity of lepidopterans have great significance in influencing the nutritional and reproductive status of the insects. This study aims to record the mud puddling activity of butterflies in Alagarkovil hills, a reserve forest area with rich biodiversity and high anthropogenic activity; and test the soil sample for various minerals and salts to understand the importance of mud puddling in the reproductive behavior of butterflies. The survey of butterflies was done on six sites in the Alagarkovil hills, from July 2017- January 2018 on sunny days, between 0800-1600 hrs, thrice a week using the transect method. A total of 111 species belonging to six families were recorded during the study period, of which the Lycaenidae, Nymphalidae and Pieridae families were mostly found to exhibit mud puddling. In agreement with previous findings, greater numbers of male butterflies were found to participate in mud puddling. Among the six study sites, the mud puddling activity was predominant in the site with copious puddles. The soil analysis of the mud puddling sites showed the presence of salts like sodium and potassium, metal ions like manganese, iron and copper, macro elements like phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon. The percentage of sodium and potassium were found to be higher, which were reported to be the chief elements consumed during mud puddling. The alkaline pH of the soil was found to favor the puddling activity. All these abiotic factors play a significant role in the nutritional and reproductive biology of the butterflies, which can be monitored to assess the community status and diversity of butterflies in an area. Conservation of mud puddling sites could help restore the biodiversity index of the butterflies.
- Mud puddling
- Alagarkovil hills
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