THE TRAVANCORE EVENING BROWN
The Travancore Evening Brown Parantirrhoea marshalli Wood-Mason, was first described in 1880-81 in The Journal of Asiatic Society, Bengal. by Marshall and de Niceville.In the Butterflies of India, Burmah and Ceylon, it is stated that ‘P.marshalli has yet only been found in Travancore, where it was discovered by Mr. H.S.Fergusson on the Ashamboo hills in May’.
More than a has 100 years passed with only a handful of sightings of this rare butterfly. J.Wood- Mason wrote “No Asiatic genus of Satyrinae presents with any remarkable arrangement of the two hindermost veins of the anterior wings described above; but, in the South American genus Antirrhoea, we meet with identically the same arrangement...”Hence he proposed the name Parantirrhoea for the new genus. Larsen described this species as an endemic species in a monobasic genus and one of South India’s most interesting endemics and he never came across the species in Nilgiris.
This rare Nyphalidae is extremely endemic butterfly of Peninsular India and as far as we know only found in a narrow stretch of the land from Coorg to the Ashambu hills. The species was once thought to be extinct since its last sighting by Fraser in 1930. This insect is rather an entomologic curiosity because it’s nearest related genus Antirrhoea is only found flying in the South American Jungles. Both these genus is remarkable due to the peculiar arrangement of hindermost veins of the anterior wings.
In 2005- 2006 we discovered the lifecycle of the Travancore Evening Brown ,one of the worlds rarest butterfly species and reported for the first time history the larval host plant for the species.This paper had been accepted for publication and is in press (Kalesh& Satya in press) in the esteemed Journal of Bombay Natural History Society.
The Travancore Evening Brown, like all the other endemic fauna of Western Ghats, need our special attention since the attribute of being endemic might predispose these species to extinction. In this century of ever increasing forest depletion it is very important that we atleast conserve what little we have left with us. With this rate of destruction we may not even know that a particular species existed, it would be wiped out even before it is discovered. After all it’s only what we know that we can protect.