Spring has set in and it is indeed tiring to even think about the ordeal of the impending heat of summer. But we do have pleasant surprises in spring when many trees are in full bloom. On one of my walks in Lalbagh I found this tree fully laden with tiny pink flowers. Bees and butterflies were constantly buzzing around this particular tree. One butterfly which had brilliant blue wings was constantly hovering near the flowers. On a closer look to my delight I found that it was laying eggs on them.
The Moulmein rosewood also known as Millettia peguensis is the larval host plant of the Dark Cerulean (Jamides bochus) butterfly. The eggs hatch and the caterpillars come out and feed on the flowers. The caterpillars of the Lycaenidae family secretes substances that attracts ants. The ants tend these caterpillars for nectar and protect them from the predators such as parastoid wasps. Some Lycaenidae butterflies cannot complete their life cycle without ants. It is important to note that this tree supports a whole ecosystem by itself – bees, flies, butterflies, ants, spiders, birds etc .
Suppose the ant is taken out of this ecosystem, the butterfly cannot survive as it is dependent on the ant. As a result the predators which feed on the butterfly like the birds are deprived of food and have to look for other resources.
Look out for these brilliant blue butterflies in your neighborhood. As the flowers are in full bloom now, there is a good chance that you will get to see this butterfly amongst the stunning pink flowers.