How a tiny creature can bring you joy, inspire art, be a matter of philosophical introspection, is quite fascinating! Yet it took me over a year to create a colorful showcase of a chosen few butterflies – an idea that came up over coffee with naturalist Karthikeyan Srinivasan.

Just to give the reader a sense of how trivial this attempted tribute to butterflies is, here are some numbers:

Butterflies have been around for at least 130 million years. India alone hosts 1800 different species and subspecies. There have been butterflies spotted at altitudes of 1000s of feet above the ground. The fastest butterflies fly at close to 30 mph (Do I see some Bangalorean city commuters going green in envy?!). The adult butterflies have an average lifespan of a month. And in such a short while, they paint nature’s palette in a way that makes me wonder what the hype about living life king size is really!

Ever since I started my close-to-a-two-month long journey on butterflies, I realized, I just haven’t been noticing them enough. A pillion ride to the Bannerghatta National Park (a must visit) on a most pleasant September morning has set me off with “butterfly vision”. The butterfly park is a very involved effort to put together a whole lot of information on its gentle flutterers. Don’t miss the gardens outside the enclosure where loads of blue and striped tigers pretty much huddle around and pose for you.

I was by a beach last month and I must have spotted at least half a dozen varieties including Orange Tips and a Crimson Rose. In the midst of all the din and smoke of JC Road one morning, I was peeking out of my auto rickshaw and saw a little Grass Yellow, fly right into a scooterist next to me. I spend at least a quiet 10 minutes every other day in my balcony or looking through the window at the Arekere forest across my home, to see various of them – Common Emigrants, Crows and Castors fly across the road to the gardens below and back to the forest.

They are shyly, coyly all over the city. They are part of the city’s fabric, just like the inanimate no parking sign or barbed fences. And that leads me to question – Would you notice them better, if they intruded into your space?

1BlueTiger

The Blue Tiger by the door

2Castor

A Common Castor – a welcome guest

3Jezebel

The Common Jezebel – a fine work of art

4Mormon

The Blue Mormon – the vigilante at sleep

5GrassYellow

The Common Grass Yellow – at high tea

6Peacock

The Common Banded Peacock – Art inspires life or is it the other way?

7Lime

The Lime – easy and quick take off

8Emigrant

The Common Emigrant – save a drop for him

9CrimsonRose

The Crimson Rose – a visitor for lunch

10LemonPansy

The Lemon Pansy – unmistakably so.

11Pierrot

The Red Pierrot – running a quick errand.

12TailedJay

The Tailed Jay – at your Christmas Party

13YellowPansy

The Yellow Pansy – quietly poised.

14StripedTiger

The Striped Tigers and a curious cat

15OrangeTip

The Orange Tip (great and small) – fearless in the monsoon

Adding a quick word of thanks to Mr. Karthikeyan Srinivasan and the JLR Explore team for encouraging me on to create these images. Image are based on, but modified as needed, from this book : “Butterflies of Peninsular India – Krushnamegh Kunte”, some phenomenal reference photographs on the internet (as far as possible royalty-free or with creative commons licensing) and the Wikimedia Commons.