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Moths of India (An Introduction)

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Editor’s Note The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has been a fount of knowledge for over a century. It has created and nurtured thousands of naturalists from all walks of life. Today the Society continues to add to the body of information gathered by all-time greats such as R.W. Burton, E.P. Gee, J.B. S. Haldane and, of course, Dr. Salim Ali, the 'Grand Old Man of Ornithology .' Long before the subject of environment had become fashionable; before the word biodiversity...
Editor’s Note

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has been a fount of knowledge for over a century. It has created and nurtured thousands of naturalists from all walks of life. Today the Society continues to add to the body of information gathered by all-time greats such as R.W. Burton, E.P. Gee, J.B. S. Haldane and, of course, Dr. Salim Ali, the 'Grand Old Man of Ornithology .' Long before the subject of environment had become fashionable; before the word biodiversity had even been coined, the study of nature was a mission for hundreds of BNHS members. In time this enduring institution gave birth to an amazing network of amateur naturalists. Their prime joy, apart from tramping India's wilds, has always been to share their experiences, knowledge and information about nature with others.

It is in this context that the production of the National Council for Science and Technology Communication, NCSTC-HORNBILL Natural History Series should be viewed. India is losing its natural wealth at a frightening pace and it is vital that decision-makers are exposed to the very real value of the ecological assets being lost to the nation. It is equally important that the rationale for wildlife conservation is understood. Humans, for instance, do not possess the technology to re-create the millions of hectares of natural forests, grasslands and wetlands we lose each year.

To maintain and to enhance the green mantle, which protects our soils and our water sources, we need the elephant to transport mango seeds. We also need chital to carry grasses from one part of the forest to the other as we do the tiny leaf warbler's non-toxic 'pest control' contribution. The cleaning service performed by turtles and crocodiles, frogs and the larvae of dragonflies helps make the water in our lakes and rivers drinkable. Every creature on Planet Earth performs a useful ecological role ... save for Homo sapiens. We probably started out right, but our capacity for abstract thought, our intellect and our relatively recent penchant for consumerism, have lulled us into the mistaken belief that we can escape the consequences of the grevious damage we inflict on ecosystems and species. With each forest we lose, each river we degrade, each mangrove and coastline ecosystem we alter, the viability of the Indian subcontinent to sustain future Indians is diminished. Simultaneously the quality of life of perhaps over 100 million earth-people: among them, fisher folk, forest dwellers, nomads and pastoralists ... is lowered and their security compromised.

This latter aspect of the environmental and wildlife movements has only just begun to assert itself in our national psyche. Young people everywhere, social activists and human rights groups are fast recognising that protecting forests for the tiger, rhino and elephant automatically serves to protect both forest cultures and resources for communities which live outside the market system.

In the coming days this new partnership between naturalists and earth-people is destined to play a vital role in defending wild India. In particular the role of nature in ensuring the food security of millions requires be understanding and highlighting. In this manuscript Isaac Kehimkar, a naturalist and accomplished photographer shares with us his knowledge of the incredible world of moths. The role these insects play in pollinating plants on the Indian subcontinent is little known. This service makes available for instance. a vast array of food and flowering plants for human use. If the N.CSTC-Hornbill Natural History Series manages to enhance the ecological information base of decision makers and to replace pure sentimentalism with pragmatism in the battle to save nature ... our purpose will have been admirably served.

 

Publisher’s Preface

This is one of a series of booklets that have been in the making for years! The wait has been worth it... both in terms of the contents and the fact that we have been able to win the involvement of the most authoritative authors on the various subjects chosen for the titles in the National Council for Science and Technology Communication, NCSTC-HORNBILL Natural History Series. NCSTC and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) joined hands to bring the science of natural history to young people though adults too are sure to relate to the style and straightforward presentation. We intend to produce more titles each year to cover as wide a spectrum of nature as possible. We expect the publications to serve the dual purpose of disseminating information and keeping an archival record on the eve of the next millenium.

We wish to demystify the subject of ecology ... to make it both understandable and acceptable to India's future decision-makers. The inter-relationships, the complex webs of existence, the contentious and confusing environmental issues ... all these will need to be understood and grappled with by tomorrow’s citizens. To the extent possible we have stayed away from scientific jargon for obvious reasons. We did not wish this initiative to be reduced to an isolated 'lesson 'of the kind one often sees being taught in our schools and colleges.

Isaac Kehimkar has been sharing his love and his knowledge of nature with young people for nearly two decades. Here he informs readers about the wonderful world of moths ... dispelling some notions and introducing new ideas. We trust that this (and the other titles in the series) will encourage readers to search for the larger picture, the totality of inter-relationships ... and thus aspire towards a better understanding of our own role on this planet.

 

Author’s Introduction

In spite of the fact that moths put-number butterflies by around 100 times, not much has been written about them. What little information we have is available only on those moths that affect crops or those that produce silk. As a result, there is no concise book on the subject for the lay person. This booklet, therefore, is an attempt to introduce some of the most common and striking species out of the several thousand moths found in India.

India's diverse natural habitats have given rise to an amazing array of moths in different shapes, sizes and colours. From the evergreen rainforests to the potted plants on your windowsill, moths are found everywhere. The moths illustrated and described on the following pages should help you to recognise the different types of moths that commonly occur. The language has been kept simple and as far as possible, technical words have been avoided. However, those technical words that could not be avoided have been explained in the glossary.

The photographs of moths for this book have been taken in keeping with the ethics of wildlife photography. None of these moths were killed, frozen or stuck just for the sake of obtaining a 'perfect picture'. Some moths were, however, reared in captivity, but later they were released into the wild. The moths are shown in their most likely resting positions, but the pictures are not to scale. So far, moths have been studied by collecting them for museum cabinets. That is why, besides their colours and other physical features, very little is known about their ecology. It is time we recognised and studied them as living components of the ecological web of which we too, are merely one link.

 

Contents

 

Editor's note VII
Publisher's preface XI
Author's introduction 1
Early history 2
What makes a moth a moth? 5
The life cycle 6
External morphology 13
Rear your own moths 17
A variety of moths 20
Gardening for moths 42
Garden plants for moths 46
Survival- a bag of tricks 48
Of moths and men 52
Glossary 56

 

Sample Pages







Item Code: NAD836 Author: Isaac Kehimkar Cover: Paperback Edition: 2002 Publisher: Vigyan Prasar ISBN: 8174800271 Language: English Size: 7.0 inch X 5.0 inch Pages: 76 (11 Color &13 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 35 gms
Price: $10.00
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