The study conducted by Bombay Natural History Society has found 77 new species of butterflies in the ecologically sensitive forest of Matheran hill station in Mumbai. With this, the total number of butterfly species in the forest has gone up to 140. Matheran is spread over an area of 214.73 sq km and is located about 80 km from the Maharashtra capital.

The eight-year-long rigorous study undertaken by BNHS from 2011 to 2019 has resulted in the discovery of 77 new species of butterflies in Matheran,” the non-governmental research organisation said in a statement. “After 125 years, for the first time such a study was undertaken to discover the flying beauties at Matheran,” it said.

In a paper titled, “Finding the forgotten gems: Revisiting the butterflies of Matheran after 125 years” by the scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society and Somaiya Vidya Vihar University, the findings have been published in Biodiversity Data Journal. Before the study that was done by BHNS, a British researcher J A Betham had surveyed the hills of Matheran for its butterfly diversity in 1894. He had reported 78 species of butterflies then.

A strong seasonal variation in butterfly diversity was observed. The maximum diversity of butterflies was recorded during winter, and the least during monsoon, BNHS said in its statement. The research paper is an outcome of eight years of fieldwork with 22,833 observations and usage of the colour bar-coding system by Mandar Sawant, Dr Nikhil Modak and Sagar Sarang in the forests of Matheran, it added.