Hill-topping, a behavioral trait exhibited by male butterflies, wherein individuals fly to the hilltops and establish territories. Butterflies can be seen darting around tree tops and chasing each other, the strongest individual securing the highest vantage position. It is thought that this results in preference of such males by female of the species, although there is little direct evidence to support this theory. I for one, believe it to be a normal territorial behavior or a mate-location behavior where the chances of contact with the opposite sex increases compared to a forested valley.
This phenomena is usually seen in areas where there are sudden elevation changes in the terrain and are of conservation importance due to the concentration of butterflies in a restricted area.
The activity can go on for days and in some locations throughout the year. Various species of butterflies exhibit this behavior with Nymphalids (Brush-footed butterflies) and Lycaenids (Blues) the most predominant. Most butterflies found at such locations are fast fliers, uncommon and with a patchy distribution.
|Large Gauva Blue patrolling his territory|
In Goa, this behaviour has been observed at various location but past experience holds me back from disclosing these locations so as to avoid congregation of enthusiasts and photography buffs, which could be detrimental to the butterflies themselves.