Wing patterns in butterflies have always amazed me.I consider myself really lucky to have friends who share my interest in rearing butterflies.Rearing butterflies has given me an opportunity to observe them from close quarters. Butterflies are excellent indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem health. They react to problems in the environment such as habitat loss or degradation, pollution, invasive species, and climate change much more rapidly than longer-lived organisms, and therefore provide a sort of early warning system.
I would like to share my fascinating experience of rearing a Common Baron (Euthalia aconthea )
Baron caterpillars evolved their elaborate shapes and colors for that single purpose: hiding from predators. Native to India and Southeast Asia, barons often feed on the leaves of mango trees.
This caterpillar was found on an Anacardium occidentale leaf.
My neighbor found a similar caterpillar and gave it to me as she knew about my interest in rearing butterflies.We fed it with mango leaves . After a few days it turns into a Pupa leaving out its hairy camouflage attire.
The outer covering becomes transparent when the butterfly is about to emerge. The wing patterns and the eyes are seen clearly.
The butterfly emerges and hangs on to its pupal case. It takes this position to dry its wings.
A newly emerged butterfly needs to spend some time inflating its wings with blood and letting them dry, during which time it is extremely vulnerable to predators. Some butterflies’ wings may take up to three hours to dry while others take about one hour. Most butterflies and moths will excrete excess dye after hatching. This fluid may be white, red, orange, or in rare cases, blue.
Butterfly proboscises are slender, tubular feeding structures. Culminating in a sharp, beak-like tip, the proboscis works like a straw through which a butterfly drinks its food. When a butterfly finds food, it first unfurls its mouth parts and then zips them together to form a channel. The proboscis is particularly well adapted for reaching into flowers for nectar and for piercing fruit with its sharp tip. When a butterfly is not feeding, it keeps its proboscis curled between its palpi (which are a pair of organs located on the front of an adult butterfly face).
In butterflies, by contrast, the same spot or stripe occurs in exactly the same location in all individuals of a species. More importantly, a given spot or stripe can be traced from species to species within a genus and often from genus to genus within a family.
Structure of wing patterns:The main organizing principle of butterfly color patterns is the symmetry system.Based on the new sequence, scientists found that different species copy each other’s wing patterns by exchanging genes, a process thought to be very rare, especially in animals.To know more on this click on the link below
Photo credits : Clicks by Poornima, Kannan and Anirudh.