Butterfly watching in Nepal
Butterflies are beautiful colorful creatures and they have been studied in Nepal for over 150 years. In the early days of the Raj, the British residents and their subordinates took considerable interest in butterflies and managed to collect quite a number of species which they meticulously studied and catalogued. After 1950, it was the Japanese who took particular interest in collecting butterfly species through scientific expeditions. This later resulted in the establishment by Tribhuvan University of the Natural History Museum at Swoyambhu in 1974. According to official records, Nepal has 651 species of butterflies which is 3.72% of the world’s butterflies.
Favored by Kathmandu valley’s mild daytime temperatures which hover around 18ºC in mid-winter, there are butterflies all year round. The best seasons for butterfly watching are late March/April, mid-May/ mid-June and late August/September. The forested areas in the valley are still remarkable places for butterflies, and they include open country near Chobar gorge and there is very little activity except for the very common Oriental Species. With the distribution of butterflies in Nepal being quite specific, about 10% of the butterflies are Palaearctic species found at above 3,000 m, and about 90% Oriental species are found around Swoyambhu, the base of the hills and forest streams at the Godavari, Nagarjun, Budanilkantha, and Sundarijal. The forested hilltops of Phulchowki, Jamachowk, and Shivapuri, and the open scrubby bush areas of Nagarkot, Suryavinayak and Chandragiri are good areas for butterfly watching.