Mumbai’s world of small insects
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park may be known for its leopards, but there’s much more to see
After the BBC series Planet Earth II (2016) turned Mumbai’s leopards into international stars, interest in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai grew tremendously. The park is a unique protected area that exists within city limits, a haven for biodiversity surrounded by suburbs with high human density. Numerous visitors come here on weekends for a glimpse of the park’s leopard population. But while the lithe predators can be elusive, there are other gems that can make a visit rewarding. We picked out a few interesting critters from Sanjay Gandhi National Park: An Urban Wilderness, a coffee-table book produced by the park management.
The bright yellows and oranges of the Indian Jezebel make the butterfly unattractive to predators but pleasing to the human eye. In India, they can be spotted wherever there are trees, whether in forests or in gardens in urban spaces.
Indian Spot Swordtail
Spotted in southern and eastern India, this butterfly gets its name from its forked hindwings and the elegant line of spots along the edges of its wings. Not fond of urban spaces, the spot swordtail can be found in forested and hilly areas.
The Fruit-piercing Moth gets its name from its habit of feeding off the sap and juices of ripe fruits. Its forewings sport camouflaged patterns that help it hide, but the underwings are bright orange/red, so the moth can startle and shock an approaching predator.
This cool-looking fella is native to India and Sri Lanka. It feeds on tree leaves and its green body and rounded, exaggerated hood, tinged with yellow-orange, enables camouflage amongst large leaves.
Spiny Orb Weaver
Named after the spines sticking out from its body, this small spider is found in gardens and woods. They capture beetles, moths and mosquitoes in their webs.