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Category: Relax & Explore


Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 10 months ago


Oriental Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider

Oriental Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider (Gastercantha geminata), Spiny orb-weavers is a common name for Gasteracantha, a genus of spiders. They are also commonly called Spiny-backed orb-weavers, due to the prominent spines on their abdomen.

Spiny Orb-Weaver spiders can reach sizes of up to 30mm in diameter (measured from spike to spike). Although their shell is shaped like a crab shell with spikes, it is not to be confused with a crab spider. Genus name Gasteracantha derives from the Greek words “gaster,” meaning “belly,” and “acantha,” meaning “thorn.”

Orb-weaver spiders are known for their nets, the spiral wheel-shaped webs that are so often spotted hanging from garden shrubs or between the branches of trees. However, with more than 2,800 species within more than 160 genera worldwide, orb-weavers are the third largest family of spiders

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 10 months ago


Nectaring

Not all butterflies are flower-visitors. Only the more evolved species and the ones in which the mouth-parts are represented by a long, thin proboscis adapted for feeding on liquid diet pay their visits to flowers. 

Such members include all species of Nymphalids, the majority of males of Lycaenids, Papilios, Pierids and Hesperiids. The flowers are exploited by the butterflies for nectar, the only source of carbohydrate for them. 

Baker and Baker (1973) showed that butterfly nectars tend to have sucrose dominance and are not very viscous. Further, the nitrogen requirement is fulfilled from the amino acids in nectar; therefore the butterfly nectars are normally rich in amino acids.

There is only one known instance of butterflies getting amino acids from pollen. The neotropical butterflies of the genus Heliconius collect pollen on their tongues, add nectar, and then drink the nectar that contains amino acids that have been leached out of the pollen (Gilbert 1972). Nectar may also satisfy the water requirement of butterflies. 

Pic & Post: #SwarnaChakrabarty #SvasaraNaturalist 

(A butterfly from the Hesperiidae Family , A DART (Telicota sp.) nectaring from the Hyptis suaveolens plant)

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 10 months ago


Butterfly Behaviours

Common Pierrot (Castalius rosimon) basking in the sun 🦋 ☀️ 

In the butterfly world, basking is the process of sun-bathing that helps increase temperature in the wing muscles to bring the insects in a physiological condition making them able to take off to their flight. 

Butterfly fly at their very best ecological conditionwhen the air temperature ranges from 24°C to 32°C. The reason for this is that they don‟t have to stop and warm their wings up. 

If the winds are cooler, many butterflies perch on flowers and leaves in the sun, usually laying them flat down and facing upward at the sun, so they can get the best exposure. When temperature rises butterflies seek shadey places.

Butterfly basking can be categorized into three types. These are lateral, dorsal and reflectance basking. Lateral basking occur when butterfly wings are folded and facing the sun. When the wings are fully open at 180° (or 90° with respect to the direct solar, radiation) the behaviour is called dorsal basking (Casey 1981). Dorsal basking is the most common type of basking. The third type basking is called reflectance. In this case, the wings are used to reflect the sun light to the butterfly‟s body rather than absorb it.

Pic & Post: Swarna Chakrabarty, Svasara Naturalist

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 12 months ago


State Butterfly of Maharashtra

Indian Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor polymnestor), is the state butterfly of Maharashtra. It’s a large swallowtail butterfly, member of the ” Papilionidae” (BIRDWING) family. This species is endemic to India and Sri Lanka. 

With a wingspan of 120–150 mm, it is the fourth largest butterfly of India. It is common and not thought to be threatened. It occurs throughout the year but more common in the monsoon and immediately after it. The butterfly is most common in heavy rainfall areas, such as evergreen forests. It is also common in deciduous forests and wooded urban areas, primarily due to the cultivation of its host plants, i.e. the Citrus species. This butterfly frequents forest paths and streams. The male is fond of sun and avoids the shade. The blue Mormon has been recorded as a pollinator of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). Blue Mormon is attracted to damp patch and has greater tolerance to other butterflies and humans while lapping up the mineral rich moisture.

In June 2015, the Blue Mormon was declared as the ‘State Butterfly’ of the state of Maharashtra and became the first state in India to have a ‘State Butterfly’.

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Swarna | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 2 years ago


Nature Walk at Dusk


During dusk nature walks at Svasara-Tadoba, one can look forward to spotting the tiny termite nest frog.

This frog belongs to the family named microhylidae (narrow mouthed frogs). Their size is quite small and they are endemic to India. Triangular disks are present on the fingers which is unique to this frog.

Rainy season is their breeding time and they breed in water inside dark cavities. Often spotted on termite mounds and also under the rocks, they are found in peninsular India and dry forest areas.

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Anusua | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 3 years ago


Indian Paper Wasp

Ropalidia is a relatively large genus in the subfamily Polistinae, containing some 136 species distributed in tropical Africa, southern Asia, Australia and Okinawa. R. marginata colonies are frequently built on eaves and windows of undisturbed buildings and other manmade structures, and occasionally on leaves and branches of some species of shrubs or trees in urban habitats.

The species shows two forms of nest building tactics, one being Independent founding and the other Swarm founding.

The one in the picture shows a typical example of an Independent founding nest. These nests are simple, unenveloped combs that are normally suspended by a narrow pedicel. Queens initiate new colonies either singly or in small groups, i.e. independently and the Queen use overt physical dominance to control or influence their nestmates. The Indian Paper wasps protect their nests against ants by rubbing the nest pedicel with an ant-repellent substance secreted by the van der Vecht’s gland present on the 6th gastral sternum of the wasp.

They face constant predation by Vespa tropica, The Greater Banded Hornet, whose workers almost systematically search for Ropalidia nests in the most likely places and prey upon the brood.

So go ahead and look out for these mesmerising little ones in your garden or windows.

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Bhautik | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 4 years ago


Giri’s Geckoella

The Giri’s Geckoella (Cyrtodactylus varadgirii) is a lizard endemic to India. It was discovered as recently as 2016 and was named after scientist Varad Giri. This lizard is a ground-dwelling lizard and found frequently on leaf litter on forest floors. They are nocturnal lizards; during the day can be found under wooden logs and rocks . They grow to a size of 6 centimetres in length. Widely distributed in India,  besides in forests they have also been found living in human-habituated urban landscapes.  The photographs featured as part of the blog have been taken at Svasara Jungle Lodge, Tadoba.

Blog Write-Up: #BhautikRDesai #SvasaraNaturalist

Pic Credits: #BhautikRDesai #PrasunMajumdar #SvasaraNaturalist

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Rishin | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 5 years ago


The Tussar Silk Moth

The silk that made India famous! The silk that created the trade route, the silk that generated revenue by creating employment. Silk that personifies Indian women and men. The creator of the raw material is the Tussar Silk Moth. Unlike the mulberry silk moth, tussar silk moth is not reared in captivity. Hence Tussar Silk is also known as wild silk or peace silk. This is because silk is only extracted from the cocoon once the adult moth emerges. I.e., the larvae are not killed inside the cocoon to obtain the silk.

Location: Svasara Jungle Lodge, Tadoba, Maharashtra, India

 

Credits: Text – Rishin, Svasara Naturalist, Photographs – Sanjay Ramachandran, Identification – Prasun, Svasara Naturalist, Sighting – Raju, Svasara Safari Driver & Tracker

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Ranjit at Svasara-Tadoba

Relax & Explore - 6 years ago


“Sona”

#BauhiniaPurpurea is a tree that bears seasonal violet flowers enhancing the subtle beauty of our Teakhouse, when in bloom.

Local Name: Sona in Marathi (local language)
English Name: Purple Bauhinia, Orchid tree ,Camel’s foot tree, Butterfly tree, Geranium tree 
Hindi Name: Kota, Raktakanchan, Khairwal, Karar, Kanchan

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION

Sona a small to medium-sized deciduous fast-growing shrub or tree with a round, symmetrical, moderate dense crown to 10 m tall, young branches becoming glabrous or nearly so (glabrescent). In dry forests like #Tadoba the size is smaller. The bark is pale grey brown, fairly smooth to slightly fissured and scaly.

At #Tadoba, the flowers appear on the trees from October and are a beautiful sight to see, creating a vivid splash of colour in the autumn landscape. The flowers are followed by 12-inch-long, slender, brown, flat seed pods which usually persist on the tree throughout the winter.

There are about 300 species of this genus found in tropical regions. The genus includes trees, vines, and shrubs that are frequently planted for their showy flowers and ornamental foliage.

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Bhautik | Naturalist at Svasara

Relax & Explore - 6 years ago


Nature Walks

We naturalists at svasara enjoy nature walks with our guests. It helps us elevate our senses of spotting, hearing and exploring in general! Moreover, it is simply rewarding to get to observe intricate aspects of nature that we would otherwise tend to miss or overlook on the jeep safaris.

 

It was one such morning walk, when I noticed something peculiar, a surprise really, there was a green bee-eater bird stuck in the web of a giant wood spider. Birds often eat spiders to gain protein and they also use their web as a material to line their nests, but they are aware how dangerous a trap a web can be and hence, avoid getting entangled. But, today I found the predator helpless and struggling for life.

 

It was actually an amazing reminder of how nature has provided the “small” species creative defensive means. In most cases, spiders will chose not to eat birds caught in their web as they are normally too large for their tiny mouths! They hence, prefer to cut the web themselves to get rid of the “extra load” on the web. Despite knowing these facts, it still made me wonder the fate of this beautiful bird, we hence, observed for an hour but finding not much action on either of the creatures’ side, we decided to return to the lodge. Being a bird lover, the next day, I was happy and relieved to get the update that the green-bee eater had been lucky to escape!

 

 

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