Travancore evening brown (Parantirrhoea marshalli)

GenusParantirrhoea (1)
SizeLength: 55 – 65 mm (2)

The Travancore evening brown is not yet classified on the IUCN Red List.

The triangular forewings of the male of this butterfly species are fringed with long, raised scales which are dark chocolate brown and like satin in texture. The centre of the wings are dark brownish-grey with flecks of deep violet and a pale violet crescent-shaped band, crossed by three small white spots. The hind wings are tailed and the undersides of both wings are pale brown with deeper brown speckling (3). Females are less conspicuous, with cream wings, speckled slightly with brown. The white spots and purple crescents are still visible but less obvious than in the male, and the wings have darker edges. The body is pale in both sexes (1). The larva of the Travencore evening brown is roughly spindle-shaped and about five centimetres long. The pale yellow-green head is shaped like a rounded triangle and the bright green body ends in a conical tail. The body bears a pair of fluorescent yellowish stripes that run along the body from the top of the head to the tail. There are also three faint greenish-yellow longitudinal stripes on each side, aligned parallel to the top most ones (4).

The Travancore evening brown is endemic to a small area of mid-elevation forests in the Southern Western Ghats of peninsular India (4).

The Travancore evening brown is predominantly restricted to undisturbed Ochlandra reed patches, on thin, poor quality soil, from about 200 to 1,000 meters above sea level (1) (4).

This crepuscular butterfly has weak and erratic flight and spends long periods at rest (1), flying only during dull weather and drizzly days (2). It lays small clutches of tiny, spherical eggs (4). From these eggs hatch the spindle-shaped, slightly hairy larvae (1). The larva is usually observed feeding during the night time on the leaves of reed species, particularly the reed Ochlandra travancorica, which grows near forest streams (4). The larva grows more and more clumsy and when it is time for pupation it rests and stops feeding for more than a day, and wanders around for some time in search of a suitable site for pupation. It settles upside-down along the midrib of the leaf, and thus the smooth, short, stout pupa is formed on the underside of the leaf in the open. The pupation is completed in about a day. Occasionally the pupa may fall to ground where it is left to the mercy of nature for survival (4).

Only a few individuals have been sighted since the Travencore evening brown was first discovered in 1870. Habitat loss is thought to be the main threat to this rare butterfly (2).

Increasing human interference through mismanagement, and aimless interventions in the name of afforestation; uncontrolled massive construction activities in reserve forests, unrestricted ecotourism and occasional forest fires, all contribute to the destruction of reed patches that are vital for the survival of the Travencore evening brown (4).

No specific conservation action has been targeted at this species.

For further information on the Travencore evening brown see:

Authenticated (22/10/07) by Dr Kalesh S., Kerala, India.

  1. D’Abrera, B.L. (1985) Butterflies of the Oriental region, Part II. Hill House, Australia.
  2. Elamon, S. (2004) Pers. comm.
  3. Wood-Mason, A. (1881) Parantirrhoea. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Part II, 49(4): 248 - 250.
  4. Kalesh, S. and Prakash, S.K. (01/01/0001 00:00:00) Early stages of the Travancore Evening Brown Parantirrhoea marshalli Wood-Mason, 1880 (Satyrinae Nymphalidae, Lepidoptera), an endemic butterfly from the southern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society,.