This Lower Parel resident has raised and given shelter to over hundreds of birds and butterflies in her apartment balcony.
When 36-year-old Arundhati Mhatre was gifted a shelter box by her friend way back in 2008, never did she think that it would change her perspective towards nature forever. Since hen, Arundhati, an IT-professional, has managed to promote hundreds of bird shelters in and around the city through her venture Arenya. Not only that, the nature enthusiast has also reared over 350 butterflies over the span of five years in her apartment balcony.
“Since the time I got the shelter, I started observing how nature works. I started visiting gardens; parks and hills for bird-watching and understanding nature better. I also took up several courses to understand various species better,” says Arundhati.
It is then that she started rearing butterflies on her own, “After studying and observing them, I realised that certain butterflies survive on only particular families of plants. Lemon, curry leaves, lantana and other citrus plants attract butterflies to lay eggs. All you have to do is collect the eggs and rear them in a glass jar. The process is not time-consuming at all,” Arundhati reveals. Some butterflies that she has reared include the common Mormon, Red Pierrot, Plain Tiger and Tailed Jay.
The way butterflies pupate is magical. The journey of turning a caterpillar to butterfly is beautiful and teaches you a lot about life too. “No one knows whether the larvae will evolve into a moth or a butterfly. In our fast paced life, we forget to experience the small joys, and it’s only by being close to nature that one can feel it. I have always had pertinent questions related to life, but it is only after observing nature that I realised everything has its own time,” she smiles.
Even these birds and creatures have equal rights to live and survive with us, feels Arundhati. “It is only when we learn to survive and habitate with them peacefully will we realise that the process gives us so much peace and serenity in the urban set-up.“
For those willing to rear butterflies in their own balconies, Arundhati has an interesting piece of advice to offer, “Start by observing the plants where butterflies lay eggs, and plant those same species in your balcony. The butterflies will definitely come and lay eggs. One can then rear them in a glass jar, you can feed them the larvae on the same plants, and they’ll soon transform into colourful winged creatures,” she signs off.