A Bhutanese moth enthusiast recently sighted a new species of moth called Bhutan salassa from the sub-tropical forests around Dur valley between Menchugang and Chok Chok May provinces. This species of moth though present in the country was never recorded before.
The moth enthusiast who ventured into the area to explore and document the moths of Bhutan suspected it to be a new species so he shared the photograph with Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang for further authentication as a new discovery.
The institute sought opinions of lepidopterist or moth experts from outside the country who confirmed that it may possibly be a new discovery.
The moth enthusiast said many species of birds, animals, butterflies moths and others largely remain to be discovered in Bhutan. This is because of a lack of expertise and technologies required to claim the discoveries.
“Even when it comes to moths, we’ve plenty of it awaiting discovery,” he said.
The local moth enthusiast also recorded for the first time in Bhutan, Lop Merinda another new species of moth in the country in the same area. He said Lop Merinda thrives in similar climatic and altitudinal range as that of Bhutan salassa.
However the latter was claimed to have first been discovered in China. “Lop Merinda was in Bhutan, long before Chinese discovered it,” he said. “It remained in the wild to be discovered but we had no expertise and the required equipment.”
Both Bhutan salassa and Lop Merinda feed on fruits and usually occurs within the altitudinal ranges of 800 to 1200 meters above sea level (masl) in an open area of temperate conifer forests. The moth comes out of their cocoons during rainy seasons. These two species recorded for now to occur in Dur valley is possible to be found in other places. The local moth expert didn’t rule out their occurrences in other areas in the country as well with similar climatic conditions.
A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly family and both belong to the Lepidoptera order. Moths form the majority of this order and about 10 times the number of species of butterfly.
Currently the moth book released by the UWICE has listed little more than 200 species of moths in Bhutan and the institute is also in the process to revise the booklet according to the new discoveries.