This is a continuation of last week’s butterfly questions blog. The first blog contained questions 1 to 10. This week we will cover questions 11-20.
If you like butterflies, you might enjoy a short trip close to Erie and go to the Niagara Park Butterfly
Conservancy. Any day trip to the Niagara Falls should include this wonderful side trip. The Conservancy is located on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens (which itself is worth the trip) and just 10 minutes north of the Niagara Falls in Canada. You just need to follow the signs to Niagara Park. It is open 364 days a year, being closed only for Christmas. Admission is about $10.00 American. Yes, you will need your passport.
Like all butterfly Conservancies, they import about 3,000 pupae per month from butterfly farms all around the world. The butterflies emerge soon after their arrival and are released into the Conservancy. If you want them to land on you or just flutter nearby, you will need to wear bright clothing, move slowly and wear cologne or perfume so that you can smell like a flower.
When do butterflies arrive on Presque Isle?
It’s late in March, and as winter’s last snow piles are just disappearing, you see an insect fly nearby. Wait a minute, is that a butterfly fluttering cheerfully on a light breeze. Yes, that really is possible, even in Erie. If you do indeed see one this early, and you may see one on Presque Isle, it is most likely a Morning Cloak. This dramatically beautiful butterfly is one of the few that winter over in the cold of the north. They go into a sort of “cryo-preservation” or frozen alive state. During the winter, Morning Cloaks find protection in willow tree cavities, under a section of loose bark or even in an unheated building.
Most other butterflies arrive late in April or early May. They need warmth to fly and survive. With the warm weather this spring, we may see them arriving any time now. A little bit depends upon the temperatures in the areas. If it stays warmer, they will be out sooner.
What are the most popular butterflies in this area?
Hands down, the Monarch is the best-known and most popular in Erie, Northern Pennsylvania and on Presque Isle. For more comprehensive information on the Monarch, see my post on September 20, 2011.
How can I encourage butterflies to visit me in my yard?
No matter what the size of your yard or garden with a little research and planning, they are fairly easy to attract. The right plants will provide food for caterpillars, and nectar for the butterflies. All butterflies are attracted to bright flowers that produce sweet nectar; on the other hand, some plants that can host the caterpillar should also be included in your garden.
You can find which plants to use at your local garden supply center or right here on the internet. An excellent web-site for information on plantings is butterflywebsite.com. In addition to your plants, your need to provide areas for these flying beauties to rest, bask and drink.
Do people still collect butterflies?
Yes, they do. We have all seen the stereotype: An earnest-looking fellow, usually in shorts, leaping through a field with a jar and a huge net. Can’t you just picture this? Yes, he is the butterfly collector. Well, the stereotype is only partly true. Most collectors admire these winged wonders, and are very serious about their hobby.
If you find collecting appealing or would like to help your child develop a new and interesting hobby, check out the web-site insectcompany.com. They have equipment and information on how to get started.
How do butterflies defend themselves?
Many have camouflage colors and markings that blend in with their surroundings. You also have probably noticed that most of them fly in an erratic and zigzag pattern. Very few butterflies fly in a straight line. This flight pattern helps them survive. Some even have the ability to become toxic, or at least distasteful, by eating toxic foods as a caterpillar. Some give off a quite bad smell. Some have learned to use their bright colors to flash in the sun and startle predators.
What dangers do caterpillars face?
It is a sad, but true, fact that it is not unusual for only three percent to survive to become a butterfly. Caterpillars are sensitive to their environment. For example, very wet conditions stimulate the growth of fungi that kill them, and exceptionally dry conditions can lead to dehydration, which also may be fatal. They have many natural enemies that destroy them and reduce their numbers. These enemies include predators, parasites, and pathogens. Some of the animals that prey on them include spiders, birds, ants, mice, dragonflies and lizards. Larger animals that may eat them are foxes, bears and raccoons. For the lowly caterpillar, it’s a wild and dangerous world out there.
How does a butterfly select a mate?
Sexual and mating selection has traditionally been understood as a male competition for access to a passive female. The assumption was that this competition took place prior to mating. However, recent studies show that in many cases, the female may be making the choice of mates.
The females presumably select a mate based on some reproductive value that they see in a particular male butterfly. Maybe he has robust appearance or vivid colors. Possibly, he used a particularly energetic pursuit of her, or his much bigger size and healthy appearance appealed to her. Just three years ago, scientists studying the butterfly found that a female could exert final control over the choice of a mate by raising her abdomen in a position that makes it impossible for the male to mate with her.
How much does a butterfly weigh?
From largest to smallest of butterflies, the weight difference is huge. A very large butterfly may weigh as much as 0.1 ounce, and an exceptionally small one can weigh as little as .0001 ounce.
What is the largest butterfly in the world?
The largest butterfly is an 11-inch beauty, which lives in the rain forests of Papua, New Guinea. It is the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing. It is a very toxic butterfly.
Why don’t I see as many butterflies as I used to?
In two words, it’s the habitat and the environment. Change is a constant and normal process, and the population of butterflies expands and wanes over time. However, like all animals and insects, the butterfly’s life depends on a healthy and specific habitat for successful living and breeding. Today, both factors are in serious danger. Many butterflies are losing their needed habitats to developments, and lives to poor environmental conditions. There are efforts in process to restore both, but the outlook still is not good for improvement. Most people do not care and are not interested enough to make the needed changes.
You can help do your part by installing a butterfly garden in your own yard. I hope to see you on Presque Isle enjoying the world of butterflies this summer. Until then, see you on the park!!
This post was written by admin