Baiju, a butterfly and birding enthusiast, who works at Government Upper Primary School, Paluvally, Palode, has, over the past decade, nurtured a butterfly garden to full bloom in the school premises. It is one of the only such gardens in a Government
school in the district.
Before work started on the butterfly garden, Baiju and his students did a survey of the butterfly varieties in the area and identified their host plants. Our school is surrounded by the reserve forest on three sides and so there is an abundance of flora
nearby. In the initial survey we made a checklist of around 80 butterflies and 65 host plants. The number has now risen to 102 butterflies of five popular species Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Lycaenidae and Hespiriidae!
.....The next step was sourcing host plants those plants that give nectar such as Ixora (Theti), Jamaican Blue Spike, and Pagoda flower (Krishnakireedam), to name just a few, and also those plants that support larvae. The students, most of who belong
to the tribal community, brought the plants from their homes. We didn' have to spend a dime sourcing plants. In fact, each time we need to re-plant, which usually happens in June/July, the students themselves bring the plants, says Baiju.
Even though the green activities are not part of the curriculum, the students seem to take an active interest and take care of the maintenance of the garden.
The teacher says that he's observed a change in the attitude of the students after they get hands-on involved in the garden. It is gratifying to see the children protecting the butterflies and dragonflies, especially when someone is out to hurt the insects.
The only problem is that once they graduate from the school not many of them are given an opportunity to sustain their interest. However, some of our old students do pop by often to check on the garden.
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