The “Shiva Sunbeam” (Curetis siva), a species hitherto unrecorded in Sri Lanka but found in India, has been recently discovered by our butterfly expert Dr. Michael van der Poorten.
Although earlier misidentified as a seasonal form of another butterfly, the “Indian Sunbeam” (Curetis thetis), Dr. van der Poorten has now confirmed the existence of the species, “Shiva Sunbeam” (Curetis siva), in Sri Lanka as well.
The adult butterfly can be seen flitting through the canopy of trees in the wet zone forests and is generally encountered around “Nadun” trees which is one of its larval food plants.
The males occasionally settle on moist soil, much to the delight of a photographer.
This brings the total number of butterfly species thus far recorded in Sri Lanka to 248, of which 31 are endemic.
In 2016, Dr van der Poorten and his wife Nancy published their landmark, Butterfly Fauna of Sri Lanka, wherein they documented the habitats, distribution and adult behaviour of all 247 species in the island at the time.
Dr. van der Poorten, with over 40 years of experience as a Lepidopterist in Sri Lanka and Canada, also discovered a new butterfly in Sri Lanka in 2008, Catopsilia scylla, which is native to Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.
In addition, he is credited for discovering the butterfly Cephrenes trichopepla, also a native of Australia, in the same year.
Both butterflies are now quite widespread across the country.