Mumbai: Maharashtra government today declared Blue Mormon as the state butterfly. The state is also the first in the country to make such announcement.
The decision was taken in a meeting of the state Wildlife Board here chaired by Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Maharashtra already has Indian Giant Squirrel (Shekru) as its state animal, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon (Hariyal) as state bird, mango as state tree, and Lagerststroemia (Jarul) as state flower but did not have butterfly as one of the symbols representing its flora and fauna.
"Nature-lovers have always been fascinated by butterfly. The state is home to nearly 225 varieties of butterflies and home to about 15 per cent of their population in the country. No state in the country has ever declared a state butterfly and the species has been one of the most neglected elements," Mungantiwar told reporters here.
He said Maharashtra has become the first state to have a state butterfly. "Academicians, research scholars on butterflies and nature-lovers have requested the forest minister (Mungantiwar also holds Forest department) to consider 'Blue Mormon' for the coveted title," the minister said.
'Blue Mormon' (Papilio polymnestor) is the second largest by size, only behind the southern birdwing. It has velvet, black wings with bright blue spots. The lower end of the wings are black while the body has some red spots on one side. Interestingly, it is only found in Sri Lanka, western ghats of Maharashtra, South India and coastal belts of the country.
Occasionally, this butterfly is also spotted from Vidharbha to Western Maharashtra.