The Aarey Dairy Butterfly Garden is nothing short of a biodiversity treasure. Here’s why it is important for us to stand up and take notice of it. And to know why conserving butterflies is so essential to our ecosystem.
Emerging from its little cocoon, spreading its wings and taking flight, butterflies have a journey like none other. While making the world a lot more colourful, butterflies play a very important role.
The Aarey Dairy Butterfly Garden, developed by Sandeep Athalye and his family, has great significance. Athalye developed the garden in memory of his father, Vinay Athalye, an avid environmentalist. Over the years, the Athalye family has planted over 5500 saplings and trees in Aarey.
The importance of Aarey Dairy Butterfly Garden
Sandeep says, ‘It’s only my passion for forests that has led me here. When I decided to develop a butterfly garden, I started experimenting with different plants and cuttings. A tribal villager told us about a few plants that attract butterflies so we began planting nectar and host plants. While butterflies feed off the nectar plants, the hosts provide a conducive environment for butterflies to lay eggs. Soon hoards of butterflies arrived. Today, the garden has around 25 plant species and over 1000 saplings’.
The Aarey Dairy Butterfly Garden sees around 40-50 varieties of butterflies and is a sight to behold! Butterflies are plant pollinators and also control the population of small insects by consuming them. In most countries, the presence or absence of butterflies is an indicator of how healthy the ecosystem is.
Aarey Milk Colony resident, Rajesh Sanap, an environmentalist and research associate for the National Centre for Biological sciences, Bengaluru, says, ‘Out of the 1800 species of butterflies in India, there are 100-plus in Aarey itself. People are still not aware of the rich biodiversity we possess. Aarey houses some rare species like the Indian Blue Mormon, which is the state butterfly of Maharashtra. The Oakleaf butterfly, endemic to the Western Ghats, can also be found here’.
Why butterflies are so significant
Sanap says that we as citizens should be aware about the importance of butterflies in our ecosystem. He also adds, “Butterflies play an important role in the food chain. While butterflies feed on small insects and plants, other species like reptiles and birds feed on butterflies. They are integral to the food chain and are also plant pollinators. So they carry pollen, helping fruits and vegetable produce new seeds.”
Both Sandeep and Rajesh believe that creating awareness about the significance of butterflies and conservation of our forests is the key to uphold our rich biodiversity.
Sandeep adds, ‘For any habitat to survive, there are three important things to keep in mind. The first is to plant lots of saplings and trees. Once they are planted, it’s important to take care of them. Second is to conserve water as it is fundamental to life and the third is to save trees by avoiding encroachments. As responsible citizens, it’s important to know how we need to conduct ourselves in the environment. Plucking flowers, fruits and leaves can sometimes have a drastic side effect which may disturb nature and lead to the dwindling population of butterflies’.
How you can contribute
While the Athalye family is saving our ecosystem one sapling at a time, we need to support them. Do your bit by coming for the Aarey Dairy Butterfly Garden visit and plantation drive this weekend. The charges go towards the maintenance of the garden.
Date: Sunday, July 22nd
Timing: 8 30 – 11 30 am
Charges: ₹500 per person (₹200 for children below 6 years)
Location: Aarey Dairy (meeting point)