Amazing Facts About Wildlife

Butterfly flits to green energy

Butterfly flits to green energy

Butterfly wings are showing the way to improve solar cell performance, says S.Ananthanarayanan.
With the conversion efficiency of solar cells not rising above 20%, getting more light to fall on solar cell panels is a way to make the better use of this source of green power.  The best way to do it, so far, has been with conical reflectors which funnel sunlight, but the arrangement is bulky and adds to the weight of the device. The discovery that a species of butterfly uses its wings to concentrate sunlight to prime its muscles for take-off suggests that the process could be mimicked in solar panels.
Katie Shanks, S. Senthilarasu, Richard H. ffrench-Constant and Tapas K. Mallick, at the University of Exter, in the UK, describe in the Scientific Reports, a journal of the Nature group, their study of white butterflies of the family, Pieridae, whose wings have surface nanostructure that has evolved for the most efficient reflection of the relevant band of frequencies.
The Team
Solar cells
The atoms of solar cell material have loosely bound electrons that can be knocked out by the energy of a photon of light. This causes a buildup of charges at the surface, and if the charges are whisked away through a one-way circuit, this constitutes an electric current, which can charge a battery, and also leave the atoms of the material ready to put out more electrons, and so on. As what solar cells need is just light, even scattered light, not necessarily direct sunlight, they are effective even on days that are cloudy or overcast. However, for the actual conversion of light energy to electricity, it is not every photon that strikes the photovoltaic material that leads to an electron being pumped out. A large proportion of the photons get reflected, or transmitted or absorbed, only to warm up the solar cell, and only a fraction lead to generation of electricity. Hence the concern is to make sure that as much light as possible gets to strike the cells.
The way ‘lightfall’ is maximised, or concentrated in solar cell panels, the University of Exter paper observes, is with the help of mirrors and lenses. The concentrators are tyically a V-shaped pair of reflectors, either of polished metal or reflective film or polymer coatings on plastics or even vacuum metalising on suitable surfaces. But these methods all have limitations, of the materials available, how well the more suitable ones can be shaped, and, most of all, in the case of the most effective solutions, of the weight. While the reflectance of the surface is important, what is often vital is the power-to-weight ratio. There has thus been great interest in finding a lightweight material that can be easily applied and shaped, the paper says.
Butterfly wings
An instance in the natural world of specifically concentrating solar radiation has been observed in the case of the white butterflies of the genus Pieris. Butterflies need to conserve weight, and apart from lightweight wings, they also conserve muscular resources, which need to be warmed before they can propel the wings for flight, especially when the weather is cooler. As butterflies are cold blooded, all butterflies need external heat, like heat of sunlight, to be able to get started. But in using sunlight, it has been seen that on cloudy days, when there is less direct sunlight, the White Pieris is able to take to flight before other species.
White Pieris butterfly
The Exter paper notes that this abliity is thanks to the ‘V’ shaped wing position that the White Pieris adopts, a behaviour the authors like to call, ‘reflectance basking’. The paper says that many studies have observed the high reflectance of the wings, on which specific patterns of beads, which contain the compound, ‘pterin’ have been found. Removing these beads from the wing surface promptly reduces the reflectance of the wings by a third, which shows that it is this arrangement of beads that makes for the effectiveness of the wings. The arrangement of pterin beads on the wings also shows a ‘quasi-random’ pattern, the authors say, and this kind of arrangement has been recently found to help use interference effects of light to concentrate light over a range of frequencies.
The Exter group hence undertook detailed investigation into the mechanism of the butterfly wing concentator, with a view to developing a related method for application in solar cells. They first checked whether the wings did, in fact, concentrate warmth on the thorax, the relevant body part of the butterfly. And then, whether there was a particular angle of the ‘V’, which could be adopted for use in solar cells.And next, did the wings also serve to concentrate optical frequencies, which would be of use in solar cells? And finally, could the whole butterfly wing or parts of the wing, like a layer of removed scale cells or an imitation, be used directly to improve the working of solar cells? 
The results of the trials were that while the wings did positively concentrate heat at the thorax of the butterfly, the use of butterfly wings, held at the correct angle, also concentrated visible light and did substantially increase the efficiency of photovoltaic, ie solar cells. On carrying out a survey of different butterfly wings, it was found that the fore  wing of the large white butterfly was the most effective and a whole wing attached to a 1 cm square solar cell increased its output by 42.3%. And given the low weight of the wings, the improvement of the power to weight ratio was a dramatic 17-fold increase. And what is more, it was found that even a single-cell layer peeled off the wing, on to a strip of adhesive tape, resulted in the full high reflectance. This allays the reservation that had been expressed, that it was perhaps the actual complex structure of butterfly wings that brings about their action. That a mono-layer is equally effective suggests that such a layer could be used as an even lighter weight concentrator for solar cells.
Quasi random
The action of the butterfly wing in concentrating all frequencies of light in the range that affects solar cells appears to arise from the way the Pterin beads are arranged on the surface. A regular, repeating pattern of rulings or other patterns on a reflecting surface gives rise to multiple waves of light from each ruling or, in this case, the Pterin beads. Light from the different reflecting points would then reach other places in the form of waves at different stages of wave motion, and they would reinforce at some places or annihilate at other places. A regular pattern, at the scale of the wavelength of light waves, would then act to concentrate particular wavelengths of light but not all wavelengths.
A random arrangement, without any pattern, on the other hand, would not select frequencies, and the surface would be reflective in all directions, and not concentrate light at any place. A third possibility is a ‘quasi-random’, or ‘quasi-periodic’ pattern. This kind of pattern has a ‘long-range’ periodicity and the effect is that it can select not specific frequencies, but a range of frequencies – which is exactly what is relevant for the concentrator for solar cells. Creating such patterns at the dimensions of the frequency of light waves, on any commercial scale, would be quite impractical. But it is fascinating that the forces of evolution, over the millions of years that butterflies have been around, have fashioned these patterns on the White Pieris butterfly wings, which happen to to be just right for use with solar cells! 
Apart from the clear value,in bringing about 43.3% improvement in the output and a 17-fold increase in power-to-weight ratio,  the authors of the paper also observe that the use of the quasi-random pattern on butterfly wings “supports the idea that any given problem may first have been solved by nature.”  While butterflies are now providing us with a way to  improve solar cell performance and tackle global warming, it is ironic that global warming  is busy wiping out biodiversity and driving species extinct – and infinite riches of technological evolution with them.
[The writer can be contacted at]

The Blue Ray compact disc

The value of the quasi –random pattern in light manipulation in a range of frequencies, with application for solar cells, was reported by a group from North Western University, Illinois in 2014. The group reported that the sequence of ‘pits’ and ‘lands’ (ie, no pit) that as engraved on Blue Ray discs forms a pattern that has quasi-random character. 
Blue Ray is the latest convention for coding compact discs and uses indentations that are of the dimensions of the wavelength of visible light. There is elaborate coding, with error detection devices, etc., which destroys the regular, periodic character of the original matter. However, the pattern is not entirely random and appears to retain the ‘long range’ periodicity that makes for resonance with a range of frequencies. 
Creating a ‘quasi-random’ sequence, with indents of the correct dimensions, for use with solar cells, is impractical. However, as Blue Ray discs are mass produced, they may turn out to be the inexpensive solution.  There does not appear to be a study, as yet, of how butterfly wings and Blue Ray discs may compare in practice

Book Reviews

Tiger Boy

Tiger Boy
-Usha Nair

Tiger Boy is an enthralling tale, written by Mitali Bose Perkins, of a young boy’s endeavour, to rescue a tiger cub from being discovered by  greedy  poachers, and, return her to its anxious mother in the safe haven  of the ’Reserve’. Set in the backdrop of the Sunderbans in India, the story is ostensibly written for young readers, but is a fascinating, easy to read, difficult- to- put -down book for the young and old alike.
Right from the opening lines of the book, the reader is transported into Neel’s world - “ Splash! Splash! The two boys stripped off their school uniforms and jumped into the pond. Their heads bobbed as they wrestled and dunked each other.”                             
The book vividly captures the warmth and sunshine of the languid and mysterious mangrove forests, of a world far away from our all too familiar concrete jungles, and describes the struggle for survival-be it of the village communities or of the majestic Bengal Tiger. The reader identifies with the dilemma of the main characters, the bravery, compassion, and fears of the siblings , their grasping of hands in the darkness ,their heart –wrenching efforts to save the tiger cub. “The sucking began and kept going—the cub was obviously hungry—but stopped as soon as they moved backward. They tried the trick a third time, but still the cub wouldn’t come toward them” .The description tugs at the heart.
  The book portrays the pulls and pressures of a society that ekes out a living with limited resources, and of a family that yet seeks to do the right thing under very difficult circumstances. The need to preserve wildlife and the commitment to do so, despite the lure of much-needed money, has been beautifully presented in this captivating tale. 
The parallel thread narrating Neel’s reluctance  to relocate to a nearby city for better education and opportunities, and the sincere efforts of his parents and headmaster to motivate him to work towards this goal, but with little success, is a situation the reader can easily empathise with when described thus: “He had no desire to study in the big city of Kolkata. Why would he want to live anywhere but on the island? He could never leave Ma and her delicious cooking; his sister, Rupa, who coddled and teased him; and Baba, who protected and provided for all of them. The sights, sounds, and smells of the Sunderbans were as much a part of him as his skin and his hair.” How the tiger cub experience jolts him to better realisation is an absorbing sub-plot
 The theme of Tiger Boy, by the author’s own admission, as of many of her other writings, emerges from reflections on the parables of Jesus. This book is based on the story about the talents given to three stewards.(Mathew25:14-30)
A must read for all age-groups.  The book is due to be released in September by Duckbill.
(Usha Nair is a nature lover who can be contacted at


October Events

Madras Crocodile Bank Trust

Mugger croc feeding demo at 11:30,12:30, 16:00, 17:00
Iguana feeding at 12:00
Gharial feeding demo at 15:00
And free guided tours will be organized throughout the day

8th CMS VATAVARAN 2015 - Environment & Wildlife Film Festival and Forum
October 9 - October 13
Oct 9 at 9:00am to Oct 13 at 8:30pm
Convention Center, Opposite Jantar Mantar, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi

The theme for the 8th competitive edition is ‘Water for Life’ with a special focus on “Conserving our Water Bodies”. It seeks to mark the interconnectedness of water and life and raise concern over the rapidly deteriorating condition of our water bodies. The fact that India has just 4% of the world’s fresh water but 16% of the global population is reason enough to begin a serious discussion on proper and effective water management and conservation. CMS VATAVARAN 2015 with its theme ‘Water for Life’ aims to do just that.

'The Forest comes to the City' @ CMS Vatavaran Environment Film Fest

A rare treat for Dilli-wallahs.
Inviting 30 Adivasi farmers from 6 states to Delhi.
Sharing poison-free NATURAL FOOD.
Traditional RAJMA, AROMATIC RICE, MEDICINAL TURMERIC, and many other items- for display & sale.

WorldWildlifeWeek at BNHS,  CEC, Asola Bhatti

Photo Exhibition in Cochin


Events to register for in September

VENUE: Suklai, Udalguri, BTAD, Assam (26°43'57.33"N, 91°46'39.63"E)
ORGANIZED BY: Butterflies of North-eastern India Group
1.Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, PhD Scholar, Assam University, Silchar 
2.Kamal Azad, Biologist, National Tiger Conservation Authority, RO, Guwahati 
3.Nawangla Bhutia, Vice President, Butterfly and Moth of Sikkim, Sikkim
4.Samrat Sengupta, PhD Scholar, Jorhat
5.Firoz Hussain, Tourism Entrepreneur, Jorhat
6.Dipankar Lahkar, Senior Research Officer, Aaranyak, Guwahati

PROGRAM STARTS ON: 25th October 2015 
PROGRAM ENDS ON: 28th October 2015 
DURATION: 4 days / 5 Nights 
RESOURCE PERSON: Isaac Kehimkar, Deputy Director (Natural History), Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai
REGISTRATION FEE: Rs. 2500/- per person (concession of Rs. 500/- will be made for the student participants and the participants selected for Power Point presentation)
Interested participants can submit their research abstract. Abstracts related to butterfly and its conservation will be given more priority. 
1.Abstract on butterfly documentation on a particular area to be selected.
2.The participants can also submit abstract even if it’s not a direct butterfly topic but the study should indirectly be linked with butterfly conservation.
3.Abstracts on butterfly photography also to be selected.
4.Only Limited Abstracts will be selected for power point presentation. Interested participants must send a sample of ppt for selection procedure.
1.Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi (+919435703109, +918471954238) 
2.Kamal Azad (+919864854382, +917035102668) 
3.Nawangla Bhutia (+919735087508) 
4.Dipankar Lahkar (+917896427559) 
5.Samrat Sengupta (+918472897756) 
6.Firoz Hussain (+918011289217)
Detailed program is under preparation...

CEC, BNHS, Asola Bhatti

Start this winter with a dose of wildlife. Come joins us for our annual Wildlife Week celebration at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. 
We will host free events staring 1st of October and running till 11th of October 2015.

The list of activities to be conducted is given below-

- Migratory Bird Walk
- Asola Lake Excursion
- Leopard Trail
- Blackbuck Trail
- Yoga sessions
- Tree climbing
- Mountain Biking
- Workshop on Wildlife Gardening
- DIY Bird Feeder/Nest
- Study of Aquatic Lifeforms
- Art from Waste
- Volunteer for Habitat Restoration
- Volunteer for Butterfly Gardening
- Wildlife Quiz Competition
- Face Painting Competition
- Wildlife Sketching Competition
- Online Slogan Writing Competition
- Interaction with Forest Department
- Review of Bio-diversity Survey of Sanctuary
- Expert Talks ON Green Living
- Panel Discusion on threats to Sanctuary
- Road-Kill Awareness Campaign
- Community Outreach
- Wetland Birds Excursion (Okhla Bird Sanctuary)
- Save Dhanauri Wetland Drive
- Photo Exhibitions
- Acoustic Music Sessions
- Native Tree Plantation
- Fun Games for Kids
- Valedictory Function and Prize Distribution

Stay tuned for more information and the schedule.

For inquires and registration contact: Mr. Ishtiyak Ahmed, Education Officer on 011-26042010/ 8800748967/ 9868441983 or Email:


T-shirts from IndianWildlifeclub store

Do not forget to use coupon code  IWC150 for Rs150/off on each T shirt you buy


Wildlife Week Sale

October first week is celebrated as wildlife week.    A good opportunity to affirm your support for IndianWildlifeClub by purchasing a high quality T-shirt from our T-shirt store-

Throughout October ( actually starting NOW) we are offering a discount of Rs 150/- per T-shirt on any T-shirt bought online.   The discount is for upto FIVE T-shirts purchased online using one email id.   The offer is EXCLUSIVE for IndianWildlifeclub store.

Use coupon code  FCIWC150

Please  like our facebook page  to get an update on latest designs and also to write your comments on what type of designs you would like to see.

Buy now awesome cotton Tees with artwork and photographs relating to nature and wildlife

Visit & Buy at  Wildlife Week Sale on for the month of October only.


More designs in our T-shirt store

Buy T-shirts with the theme of nature and wildlife at attractive discounts!


( *
*This code is applicable on pre-paid orders and valid till the 31st of October 2015)


 (* Specific to the store of IndianWildlifeClub only,  valid till 11th Sept 2015)

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There are more than 100 designs to choose from.

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