Lepidopteran inhabitants on mammalian dung in the Wasgomuwa National Park, Sri Lanka
University Of Colombo
D. K. Hewavithana, M. R. Wijesinghe And C. D. Dangalle
It is known that butterflies utilize dung for water and mineral resources. However, no studies have documented the species that occur on dung piles. In the present study we record the species of butterflies that use mammalian dung in the Wasgomuwa National Park in the dry zone of Sri Lanka.
Passive observations were made of all dung piles observed (42 dung piles)during 11 sampling days, both along roads and in open areas of the study site from April to September 2012. Butterflies observed were identified using field guides on the Butterflies of Sri Lanka. A total of six species of butterflies representing two families were recorded in the study site.
Six species of butterflies, Megisba malaya, Acytolepis puspa felderi, Jamides celeno, of family Lycaenidae and Melanitis leda, Ypthima ceylonica, Cirrochroa thais lanka of family Nymphalidae were identified from dung piles. C. thais lanka is an endemic subspecies. Butterflies were observed only in elephant and bear dung and were not recorded on leopard, buffalo and ungulate dung. The endemic subspecies was only found on bear dung.
The present study shows that the butterflies utilize mammalian dung as an alternative. This suggests that, in addition to the presence of the host plants, the availability of dung may also affect the survival of butterflies within the park. The bear and elephant dung were utilized by different lepidopteron species including the endemic subspecies. Thus strategies to conserve the specific mammalian hosts may indirectly benefit the butterflies in these habitats.