Posted by: cochinblogger | May 21, 2014

Butterflies of Cochin: Tawny Coster


There’s something magical about spotting a butterfly when butterflies are not on your mind at all.This was a chance encounter. I’d gone to Cochin University to watch the CUSAT chess tournament when I spotted this Tawny Coster just outside the venue. The butterfly settled down on the plant and didn’t move, and at that moment, a cloud moved overhead, creating perfect light for the shot. I moved in for the kill.

After capturing the pic you see above, I greeted this butterfly like an old friend, because the Tawny Coster was the first butterfly I befriended. There was an abandoned plot on my route to the bus stop after work that was infested with these butterflies. I unearthed the reason with a little research: the Tawny Coster loves the passion flower plant, and the plot was overrun by these plants. The butterflies were everywhere, perched on flowers, flying around drunkenly, and copulating on the telephone wires above. The fruit of these unions was visible on the plants: knots of purple-red caterpillars, twisting and turning, eating their way through the plants. Then one day the owner got the plot cleared, and the butterflies vanished.

The Tawny Coster is immune to predators, thanks to a foul-smelling liquid it discharges when attacked. Besides, it has a tough body that resists the most vicious bird pecks. So, its flight is slow and lazy, and it is heedless of danger. It flies close to the ground, prefers open ground to shady nooks, and depends for sustenance on flowers.

But what else do butterflies depend on for nutrition apart from the nectar of flowers? It’s an amazingly long list that includes blood, feces, sweat, rotting fruits, alcohol, and crocodile’s tears. Yes, you read that right. Here’s proof:

Why Butterflies, Bees Drink Crocodile Tears

Wait, I’ve to add shoe polish to that above list. A butterfly once perched on my shoe for a few minutes while I stood still and watched. I didn’t understand its behavior then, but I do now. Butterflies, like humans, will imbibe anything at all if it gets them high. And salt is the holy grail for male butterflies because it has an aphrodisiac effect on them. All those politically correct nutrition hypotheses of the scientists don’t fool me. 🙂

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