Bengaluru, 15 January 2024: Scientists from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS- TIFR), Bengaluru, in collaboration with researchers from Indian Foundation for Butterflies Trust, Bengaluru, have identified a new butterfly species, the Conjoined Silverline (Cigaritis conjucta), from the Western Ghats (a biodiversity hotspot) in Karnataka. Prof. Krushnamegh Kunte, along with PhD scholars Ujwala Pawar and Viraj Nawge from NCBS, contributed to this discovery, recently documented in the journal Zootaxa.
In 2021, the team identified over 30 individuals of Conjoined Silverline butterfly at Honey Valley, in the Kodagu district of Karnataka. Silverline butterflies belong to the family Lycaenidae, with 16 species occurring in India. Peninsular India and Sri Lanka host 11 of these species. Most species of Silverline butterflies are widespread in India and some occur only in the Himalayan region. In contrast, the newly described Conjoined Silverline is only the second species endemic to the Western Ghats. Within its currently known range, it appears to inhabit only the dense mid-elevation evergreen forests, so it may be very specialized in its habitat requirements.