Colorful Butterflies Help Us to Study Evolution

Colorful butterflies help us to study evolution

Butterflies are the colorful insects. Antonia Monteiro and his colleagues have found that the beautiful pattern of butterflies may help in the study of evolution. Each species have separate colors. They select their mating partner on the basis of their body color. The colors help them to camouflage in their environment when their enemy comes. The scientists found that the pigment producing cells can be used to find how the shapes, sizes, and colors of an organism have evolved.

Butterfly bellows to the order Lepidoptera. There are a total of 17,000 species worldwide. Unlike moths, butterflies are active during the day and are usually brightly colored or strikingly patterned. Distinctive features are club-tipped antennae and a habit of holding the wings vertically over the back when at rest. With few exceptions the larvae and adults eat plants. Butterflies are classified into five or six families. The metalmarks of the family Lycaenidae are found chiefly in the New World tropics; some members of the family Nymphalidae are called snout butterflies. Other species (with their families) include the white and sulphur butterflies (Pieridae), the swallowtail butterfly (Papilionidae), the blue, copper, and hairstreak butterflies (Lycaenidae), and the admiral, monarch, and painted lady (Nymphalidae).

White butterfly below to the family Pieridae. Adults have a wingspan of 1.5-2.5 in. (38-63 mm); the wings are white, with black marginal markings. The pattern and color of many species vary with sex and season. Many of the green, slender larvae, most of which are covered with a short down, or pile, are pests of garden crops. The pupae are attached to a twig by a posterior spine and a girdle of silk. Scientific name is Pieris brassicae.

European cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae). Its larva is a major economic pest, attacking cabbage and related plants.

Introduced into North America c. 1860, the cabbage white is today one of the most common North American white butterfly species.

Sulfur butterfly: Any of several species of butterflies (family Pieridae) that are found worldwide.

Adults have a wingspan of 1.5-2.5 in. (35-60 mm). The colour and pattern of many species vary seasonally and between sexes, but they are generally bright yellow or orange. Some have two colour patterns; for example, Colias eurytheme is usually orange with black wing margins,but some females are white with black margins. Pupae are attached toa twig by a posterior spine and a girdle of silk. The larvae feed on clover and may seriously damage crops.

Monarch Butterfly: Species (Danaus plexippus, family Danaidae) of milkweed butterfly, occurring worldwide but mainly in the Americas.

It is the only lepidopteran species to make a true migration (a two-way flight by the same individual). In North America, thousands of monarchs gather in autumn, migrate southward, sometimes more than 1,800 mi (2,900 km), and return north in spring. The distinctive coloration of the adult’s wings (reddishbrown, with black veins, a black border, and two rows of spots) warns predators of its bad taste. Several other species derive protection by mimicking its coloration.

Blue: Any member of the widely occurring lepidopteran family Lycaenidae.

Adults, sometimes known as gossamer-winged butterflies, are small and delicate, with a wingspan of 0.75-1.5 in. (18-38 mm). Blues are rapid fliers, and most species haveiridescent wings. Larvae are short, broad, and sluglike. Some species secrete honeydew, a sweet by-product of digestion that attracts ants,which stroke the larvae with their legs to stimulate honeydew secretion.

Hairstreak: Any butterfly in the subfamily Theclinae (family Lycaenidae), sometimes known as gossamer-winged butterflies.

Adults are delicate and have a 0.75-1.5-in. (18-38-mm) wingspan. Rapid fliers, hairstreaks usually have iridescent wings and are typically brown or gray with delicate stripes on the bottoms of the wings. Larvae are short, broad, and sluglike. Some species eat plants, many are cannibals, and still others secrete honeydew, a sweet by-product of digestion that attracts ants. Found in open areas on every continent, hairstreaks are most abundant in the New World tropics.

Fritillary: Name applied to butterflies in several genera (family Nymphalidae).

Large fritillaries, or silverspots, belong to the genus Speyeria and usually have silver markings on the undersides of their wings. Many of the smaller fritillaries are members of the genus Boloria. Many fritillary larvae are nocturnal and feed on violet leaves.

Morpho: Name applied to butterflies in several genera (family Nymphalidae).

Large fritillaries, or silverspots, belong to the genus Speyeria and usually have silver markings on the undersides of their wings. Many of the smaller fritillaries are members of the genus Boloria. Many fritillary larvae are nocturnal and feed on violet leaves.

Tiger Swallowtail: Any of several North American species of black-and-yellow swallowtail butterflies.

The eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is a large, widely distributed species. The yellow male has black margins and black stripes on the wings. The female is similarly marked in the north, where the black and distasteful pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor) does not occur; in the south, where the two coexist, the female tiger swallowtail is very often all or mostly black.

Skipper: Any of some 3,000 lepidopteran species (family Hesperiidae) named for their fast (up to 20 mph, or 30 kph), darting flight.

The head and stout body of the adult skipper resemble a moth’s, but most skippers hold the first pair of wings vertically at rest, as butterflies do. Most skippers are diurnal andlack the wing-coupling structures typical of moths. Larvae feed mostly on legumes and grasses, usually living inside folded or rolled leaves that may be woven together. They pupate in a thin cocoon of silk or silk and leaves.

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