Monday, December 28, 2015

Banana Skipper/Rounded Palm Red-eye (Erionota torus)

Banana Skipper is the most recently discovered butterfly of  Sri LankaRohana Gunawardana first observed two adults on 16th August 2015 at Ambagaspitiya in Gampaha District, while resting on a Musa x paradisiaca (Banana/කෙසෙල්) leaf. Next day he discovered many larva and pupa as well as adult butterflies on the vicinity and occurring of new invasive pest butterfly species in the island was formally published later on by Rohana Gunawardana, Ishara Harshajith Wijewardhane, H.M.B.E. Herath, and Tharaka S Priyadarshana in Wildlanka Vol 3 No 3, The research journal of the Department of Wildlife conservation, Sri Lanka.*
    Globally Banana Skipper is distributed in Southeast AsiaTaiwan, Japan and northern India and it is believed that it has been entered Sri Lanka with imported plant materials. In Sri Lanka it is observed that larva of Banana Skipper feeds on mature banana leaves. Also it rolls the banana leaf flap clockwise to form a shelter to rest inside, coursing serious damages to the banana trees. Banana being a commercially cultivated , wide spread crop plant throughout the island, above authors have highlighted the necessity of taking immediate measures to eradicate it in the early stage. Outside Sri Lanka it is reported that not only Banana but also Cocos nucifera (Coconut/පොල්), Areca catechu (පුවක්/Betel-nut palm), Bambusa oldhamii, Strelitzia reginae and Saccharum officinarum (උක්/Sugar cane) are also host plants of the Banana Skipper. Three of them are widely cultivating important crop plants and it was noted that it would be a great lose for the economy if it gradually spread to them as well.

Current Status:
Banana Skipper is now a widely distributed pest in most areas where banana trees are growing as a commercial cultivation or as a home garden fruit tree. Such as Udawalawe, Sinharaja, Gilimale,  Kandy, Kotte, etc (Personnel observation). However it has been observed that Yellow-billed babblers are feeding on larva, tearing its 'nest' where it hide during the day time (Rajika Gamage & Sujeeva Gunasena Personnel communication)

* Meanwhile quite independently  Tharindu Ranasinghe and Himesh Dilruwan Jayasinghe also observed it in the same area and their findings were published as a newspaper article on 27th September 2015 - Enter the Banana Skipper butterfly; bad news for banana farmers

References:
Gunawardana B.R., Wijewardana G.V.I.H, Herath H.M.B.E & Priyadarshana T.M.T.S. 2015, Erionota torus Evans, 1941: A New Record for Sri lanka with notes on its biology (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) WILDLANKA Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 178 - 183.

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